Fremantle have undertaken a ‘mountain of work’ heading into the 2019 NAB AFL National Draft, and general manager of football Peter Bell says the recruiting team is prepared for the unexpected.
Round one of the draft will be held on Wednesday night at Marvel Stadium from 7pm (4pm WST), with round two onwards held on Thursday night.
The rookie draft will follow on Friday morning.
For the first time in club history, Fremantle head into the draft with Next Generation Academy prospect Liam Henry predicted to be taken in the first round.
Fremantle have the right to match any bid on the small forward using their next highest draft pick(s), and also have the ability to go into deficit for the 2020 draft if required.
Whether that bid comes before Fremantle’s top-10 selections of seven and eight, or after, will determine the course of their draft night.
“It’s a difficult one because there is a lot of unknown about when a bid might come for Liam,” Bell said.
“Obviously, we’ve planned through all the different scenarios and realistically, when a bid does come, we’ll assess whether we’ll want to match that bid.
“What is very clear is that Liam has a lot of ability and he’s a good character as well. We just have to wait on the night to see where the bid comes, and we’ll make our evaluation from there.”
Henry is one of three top-rated WA-based draft prospects heading into the draft, alongside ruckman Luke Jackson and WA U18 captain and midfielder Deven Robertson.
Bell said that Fremantle would prioritise talent over local and positional needs with their early picks.
“Generally you go for the best talent, that’s been our philosophy,” Bell said.
“There is a lot of West Australian talent as well, which is really pleasing. They won the U18 Championships and there could be a lot of players taken out of that team.
“Additionally to that, there are some players involved in the WAFL who may get their opportunity.
“Early in the draft, you tend to choose the players that you deem to be the best players. A bit later on, you can take into account your needs, list management, positional needs and the like.”
Like last year’s draft, Bell said Fremantle need to be open to the possibility of live pick trading.
“Our final order has been completed and this year, like last year, it will be a little bit different with the ability to trade live picks and future picks as well.
“Scenarios can change very quickly so you have to be nimble. You have to be innovative at times and you have to plan for a number of different scenarios, most of which won’t eventuate, but you have to put that time in anyway.”
Bell said he was confident Fremantle would benefit from the recruiting team’s hard work.
“History will tell you that your chances of finding a really good player are very strong when you have top-10 selections,” Bell said.
“I know that our recruiting team have done a mountain of work to identify the right players and, hopefully, they’re available when we have our turn to select.”
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