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Darcy continuing a ruck legacy

Tom Fee  June 13, 2017 11:33 AM

Aaron Sandilands gives some insight on his young protégée.

At Fremantle, there’s a history of ruckmen grooming the next generation.

It started with Simon Eastaugh, Freo’s ruckman in 2001 and 2002, who was instrumental in the development of a young Aaron Sandilands when he was drafted in 2001.

Now Sandilands is playing his part in helping new draftee Sean Darcy find his feet at AFL level, while Eastaugh oversees the pair as Freo’s ruck coach.

Both Sandilands and Darcy have signed contract extensions, with Sandilands committing to play until at least 2018, while Darcy has signed on until the end of the 2020 season.

Not only does Sandilands’ extension see Freo lock in one of the league’s most successful ruckman for another season, it allows Darcy another year to develop under Sandilands’ wing.

Sandilands has hailed Eastaugh’s guidance in his developing years at Fremantle as “priceless” and Darcy says the 34-year-old is now taking on the role as mentor.

“Aaron’s been unreal,” said Darcy.

“He sits down with me every week and watches the tape from my game and discusses what I should do and then I watch his film, too.

“He’s been great, he answers any questions I’ve got and he’s been really good for me.”

Darcy said he’s doing everything to make the most of working with both Sandilands and Eastaugh, who was instrumental in Sandilands’ development.

“Simon’s a great coach,” Darcy said.

“Working with him and Aaron, you can tell how well they work together.

“They’re great at teaching you the little tricks of the trade about ruck work.” 

At WAFL level, Darcy has shown the ability to contribute as both a lead ruckman and as a versatile ruck/forward.

In rounds nine and 10, Darcy kicked four and two goals respectively while playing a dual ruck role alongside Jon Griffin.

With Griffin returning to the AFL on the back of Sandilands’ injury, Darcy has thrived as a lead ruckman, racking up 49 and 42 hitouts in rounds 11 and 12 against strong opponents in Subiaco and South Fremantle.

“The last six weeks, I’ve been happy with my form at Peel,” Darcy said.

“I’ve just got to keep doing that and playing well each week.

“Contributing up front is really important, too. I can’t just be a one-position player.

“Playing forward is something I’ve probably never done before but it’s something I’m learning, it’s going well.”

While Sandilands is expected to hold Fremantle’s lead ruck-role until at least 2018, the 253 game player says he can see a lot of potential in Freo’s new recruit.

“He’s a great young man,” said Sandilands of Darcy.

“One of his greatest strengths was his willingness to learn and improve, and that stands out the way he goes about his work.

“The growth’s been there already and he’s going to be a long term player for the footy club.

“I’m more than happy to pass on as much knowledge as Sean wants, so he seeks me out a fair bit and I’m really enjoying being able to pass on that knowledge.”