Ahead of a draft that looks to have a bumper WA-based crop, executive general manger of football operations Peter Bell has discussed how Fremantle will prioritise their selections at November’s 2021 NAB AFL National Draft.
Freo currently hold picks eight and 27, with the chance of that hand strengthening on the back of Adam Cerra’s request to be traded to Victoria.
The best midfield and forward prospects are set to top Fremantle's priorities, with highly-rated WA players Neil Erasmus (Subiaco), Jye Amiss (East Perth), Jack Williams (East Fremantle), Jacob Van Rooyen (Claremont) and NGA prospect Jesse Motlop (South Fremantle) potentially filling that mould.
Speaking to SEN WA, Bell said Fremantle would always look at drafting the best players from around Australia, highlighting the recent selections of Andrew Brayshaw, Caleb Serong and Hayden Young, but added that WA-based players did receive a favourable weighting in Freo’s rankings.
“On drafting West Australians, in my time at the Club we’ve always put a weighting on West Australian draftees, so it definitely comes into our consideration,” Bell told SEN WA.
“It also comes down to the ranking order as well and where we see particular players.
“Whilst Adam has decided to leave - and that’s totally his right and prerogative - it’s not lost on us also that Andy Brayshaw’s recently signed up until 2025.
“We see other players like Caleb Serong and Hayden Young, who we’re really confident will play their entire careers here at Fremantle. You have to balance it all up, but there is a weighting to WA players for sure.”
In 2020, this policy helped Fremantle take four West Aussies from their four National Draft picks in Heath Chapman (pick no.14), Nathan O’Driscoll (27), Brandon Walker (50) and Joel Western (54).
Bell said he expected players from WA and South Australia to feature strongly in the 2021 draft due to players from those states having more opportunity to develop amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
“It seems like there’s a really good talented group in WA, who importantly, have also been able to play a lot of footy this year. This could mean there’s a big crop of West Australians and South Australians drafted,” Bell said.
“Last year we drafted entirely out of WA, I’m not sure if that will be the case again this year but there’s certainly some young players there that we’re really interested in.”
Bell also addressed the recent trade speculation around former Freo Docker Lachie Neale, who after considering a trade back to WA, reaffirmed his commitment to the Brisbane Lions.
He said Fremantle would only seriously consider a trade for Neale if he requested a trade, respecting that the Brownlow Medallist has two more years remaining on his contract.
“Until such time that a player, in this situation Lachie, comes out and says they would like a trade to Fremantle, you don’t spend a huge amount of time discussing things internally, because as it’s proven in this case, he’s decided to stay in Brisbane where he’s contracted,” Bell said.
“We have to respect that he’s got a contract up at Brisbane, he’s indicated that he wants to see it out which will take him up to the age of 31.
“If there were opportunities to look at things then, we’d do so, but in the meantime we have a lot of work to do in adding some further quality to our list and continuing to improve our football performance and program.”