With Fremantle’s 2019 AFL season in the books, focus has quickly turned to the draft and trade period on top of the search for a new senior coach.
General manager of football Peter Bell sat down with former teammate Shaun McManus in an interview with Docker TV to discuss the months ahead.
Bell said the upcoming NAB AFL trade and draft periods presented an excellent opportunity for Fremantle to build on a list full of promise.
“First of all I’m really pleased with the squad that we have at the moment,” Bell said.
“I think there’s some exceptional players there, we need to work as a club to get more availability.
“If we can get them all out on the park, and we saw that in the first 12 rounds of the season, how competitive we were when we had close to a full range of selection available.”
Bell said that Fremantle may target midfield depth and potentially a half back through either draft and trade.
“From a list management perspective, we’d like to bring in some more help in the inside mid area to help Nat Fyfe, Michael Walters and David Mundy out,” Bell said.
“We also think Adam Cerra and Andrew Brayshaw are really ready to progress their football to the next level. We’d like to get them some more inside mid minutes.
“A running half-back is always valuable as well. We missed Nathan Wilson’s run and skill execution over the latter part of the season.”
Bell acknowledged that Fremantle may need to strike deals for midfielders Bradley Hill and Ed Langdon.
Hill, who has two years remaining on his contract at Fremantle, has requested a trade to Victoria, while Langdon is out of contract at the end of the year.
“Ed is out of contract and he’s another who has been a great servant for Fremantle. (Langdon and Bradley Hill) are formidable wingmen. We’ll work through that with their management,” Bell said.
“We’ve certainly had some conversations with Bradley and his management and they’ve indicated that for family reasons, in particular with Bradley’s girlfriend, that they are very keen to get back to friends and family in Melbourne.
“Also, he is a contracted player and he’s got a couple of years left on his contract.
“We have to do what is the best for the Fremantle Football Club, and whilst there’s empathy for Bradley’s situation, he’s a Fremantle player and he’s been a great servant for Fremantle.”
As well as overseeing the club’s NAB AFL trade and draft periods, Bell is also a part of Fremantle’s senior coach selection sub-committee that is chaired by board member and former club captain Peter Mann.
“The process will be really thorough. We’ve had preliminary discussions with a few candidates and many more will be canvassed,” Bell said.
“We’ll then begin this process of refinement, it will take a lot of time, a lot of interviews and a lot of presentations. It’s a pretty big task.”
Bell said that the off-season presented an exciting opportunity for the club, and he had full faith in the selection committee that also includes club president Dale Alcock, board member Sue Murphy and former player and life member Luke McPharlin.
“With change comes great excitement, and of course there is uncertainty as well,” Bell said.
“The coach selection panel will cast a very wide net and speak to a number of people. Some of those will be the people that are widely publicised but others more left field perhaps.
“We haven’t gone in with any preconceptions at all. It will be a really thorough search and, hopefully, we’ll make the right decision for the footy club.”
Bell said he was delighted that Fremantle had a person of McPharlin’s calibre on the sub-committee.
“Luke is highly respected, really intelligent - he’s a deep thinker about the game as well,” Bell said.
“His playing record speaks for itself. He was also at the Hawthorn Football Club at the start of his career, who were a fantastic organisation.
“He was a real leader here and he will be the independent person on the coach selection panel.
“We think that he’ll be an ideal candidate to help us work through all of the prospective coaches.”