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Fremantly Football Club

Sandi in 2019? Lyon hopes so

Senior coach Ross Lyon addressed the media on Thursday. Ross Lyon spoke to the media about what they need to focus on ahead of the round 16 clash against Melbourne

Senior coach Ross Lyon doesn’t see any reason why veteran ruckman Aaron Sandilands can’t play on for another season.

Sandilands has long been regarded as one of the league’s premier ruckmen and only Melbourne’s Max Gawn has averaged more hitouts and hitouts to advantage per game in 2018.

Sandilands has played 11 games this season prior to injuring his calf in the warm-up for Freo’s round 15 clash with Brisbane.

In his 16th season, he has become the first player to represent Fremantle at the age of 35 or older and Lyon believes Sandilands could feasibly run out as a 36-year-old in 2019.

“Aaron’s story is amazing. He came off the rookie list and built himself into a premier ruckman,” Lyon said.

“Clearly, he’s at the back end (of his career) but his form would certainly warrant going on next year if he wanted to.

“I haven’t had those discussions with Aaron and they’re not for me to drive.”

Sandilands is expected to spend three weeks on the sidelines as he recovers from a minor calf injury and Lyon expects him to return and feature strongly late in the season.

Lyon said Sandilands’ return would provide a good learning opportunity for the likes of Michael Apeness and Sean Darcy to play alongside him. 

Until then, Apeness and Darcy will work in tandem in the ruck – starting on Saturday night against Melbourne at TIO Stadium.

“I have a belief that Aaron rehabs really well and I’d expect to see Aaron play (again) this year,” Lyon said.

“I think they would be a really meaningful combination (with either Apeness or Darcy). 

“You saw Michael with Aaron against Carlton and (their ruckman Matthew) Kreuzer, it worked really well and helped Michael.

“There’s no doubt Aaron back in would help either Michael or Sean. That would be exciting for us and, unfortunately, we haven’t had that opportunity this year.” 

Lyon said he had learnt not to write Sandilands off after seeing how strong he was when going down with broken ribs and a punctured lung against West Coast in 2016. 

“He’s played at seven foot with injuries regularly,” Lyon said.

“I can still remember walking into the emergency department after he had four ribs busted in half and had to get a plate inserted into his ribs. 

“His wife Jenny was standing there and he said ‘I’ll be right’, even though it was pretty traumatic. 

“For me, I’m probably not jumping to the end as quick as (some people in the media) but that’s his story and it’s an inspiring story.”

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs