Fremantle rookie Karl Worner has been rewarded for his hard work since arriving at the Club with a one-year rookie contract extension for the 2023 season.
The Victorian was selected by Fremantle in the 2021 NAB AFL Rookie Draft but was unable to commence training with his teammates until late February due to WA’s border restrictions.
Worner impressed Fremantle’s recruiting staff with his ability to improve his football despite having limited opportunity to play in Victoria due to the extensive lockdowns throughout his previous two seasons in the NAB League.
He then applied himself through the 2022 pre-season by training with Richmond’s VFL team, and despite not being present for the Club’s time trials, the elite runner was able to deliver times better than any other player on Fremantle’s list.
Worner said he was thrilled to be playing regular football after two interrupted seasons back in Victoria.
“I’m absolutely stoked to sign on, receive this opportunity and to keep it going on. I’ve really loved it so far,” Worner said.
“The most important thing for me is to get continuity in my football and show my competitiveness. I feel like I’ve started off pretty well but have a lot of things to improve on.
“I’m really happy with the way I’ve started and to lock another year in.”
The 19-year-old has been a valuable addition on the wing for Peel Thunder in the WAFL, averaging just under 24 disposals and six marks per game.
He had 31 disposals and two goals in his WAFL debut against East Fremantle in round one and was one of the Thunder’s best at the weekend with 25 disposals and a goal in a 22-point win against Claremont.
Worner paid tribute to the way the Fremantle and Peel players and coaches worked together in their alignment.
“There’s just a great bond down there, a great group of blokes that we play with and the coaches as well,” Worner said.
“We didn’t get the result we wanted last week (against South Fremantle) but I feel like we bounced back well and it was just an all-round great team performance.
“(Against Claremont) I was lucky enough to get plenty of the football but I felt like all around the ground, everyone played their part and it allowed us to have a great win.”
Worner has missed one WAFL game this year, instead travelling with Fremantle for their round seven win against Geelong.
“That was very cool, especially getting to see the travel environment first hand and how all the boys prepare,” Worner said.
“I’ve always been a person who loves to learn off other players and learn off the more experienced ones and just watching how they prepare for an interstate game, what they do to get the best out of themselves. It’s something I’ve taken a lot out of and I’m hopeful I might get an opportunity like that in the future.”
Fremantle Head of Player Personnel David Walls said Worner had worked hard to earn his opportunity.
“Karl had a delayed start coming across to WA but since he’s been here, he’s applied himself and he’s performed well at WAFL level,” Walls said.
“We’re excited by what Karl can develop into and it was important to give him that extra year’s security so he can focus on his footy.
“His attitude’s been strong from before he was drafted, especially during Covid. In that time he grew into an elite runner, even by Fremantle standards.
“He’s put the work in and there’s other areas, like getting bigger and stronger, for him to work on. We think he’s got real scope to develop into an AFL player and we want to reward his attitude and the work he’s put in.”