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Fremantle have secured the services of emerging defender Luke Ryan, with the 23-year-old agreeing to terms on a three-year contract extension that will see him at the club until at least the end of the 2023 season.
With one year to play in his current contract, Ryan’s three-year extension means he will play in Freo colours for at least another four seasons.
Ryan will also have a change in number for the 2020 season, switching to the number 13 from 38, which he wore for 49 games between 2017 and 2019.
Taken at pick no.66 in the 2016 AFL National Draft, Ryan has since established himself as one of the game’s best intercepting defenders.
Champion Data rates Ryan as elite for intercept possessions and intercept marks, with the defender ranking second for intercept possessions in the AFL in 2019.
Despite having family ties in Victoria, Ryan said he was a committed Freo Docker.
“I’m very excited to stay with Fremantle,” Ryan said.
“I’ve got my family back home but when I spoke to them, we came to the conclusion that Fremantle gave me my chance - if it wasn’t for Fremantle I probably wouldn’t have been playing AFL.
“(Before) I was called out with pick 66, I felt it was my last chance and, luckily enough, they called me. I owe it to Fremantle and what they’ve done for me, so I wanted to sign on.”
Ryan was hopeful that Fremantle’s backline could build on a promising 2019 season that was affected by injuries to key personnel.
“Last year, we had a few injuries, especially to Alex Pearce. I think if we’re really fit and strong, I think we can be a top AFL defence, so I’m really excited to see what we can do,” Ryan said.
“(Senior coach) Justin Longmuir has come in and he’s been really good. He’s really smart and we’ve just got our full squad back training now.
“We’re making a few changes that we’re excited about and we’re looking forward to showing that on the track and seeing how we can improve.”
Fremantle list manager Mark Micallef said Ryan fills a vital role in Fremantle’s backline.
“Luke’s re-signing is a fantastic result, he’s someone who has cemented himself in our back six,” Micallef said.
“With Luke’s intercept ability and ability to use the ball by foot, he adds to the defensive pillars we have in our defence.
“We see Luke as being a really strong and hopefully elite player of the competition. He has the football characteristics that are vital for our success and we hope he can lock in that role as a strong leader of our defence.”