There are 12 players on Fremantle’s list who are yet to play AFL, and general manager of football Peter Bell predicts they will all get their chance when the league resumes later this year.
In a farewell speech to the group before they broke for leave on Monday, Bell said he expected the AFL to cram in a large number of games in a short period of time, meaning Fremantle would rely on their full list to get through the season.
This means the likes of Hayden Young, Caleb Serong, Liam Henry, Michael Frederick, Jarvis Pina, Isaiah Butters, Leno Thomas, Dillon O’Reilly, Tobe Watson, Tom North, Luke Valente and Lloyd Meek are all in a great position to earn their first Freo guernsey.
Bell appealed to every player to be diligent throughout their leave period to ensure they returned fit and ready to go.
“The AFL are hell-bent on playing those 144 games,” Bell said.
“So whatever your circumstances are, there has never been or there will never be more opportunity to play AFL football in a season to demonstrate what you’ve got.”
Bell praised the group for building an excellent culture through the pre-season and said this year will be an immense test of that environment.
“From a football sense, we’ve done a lot on culture, connection and care in a short space of time,” Bell said.
“Think back to all that you’ve done since we all got back together in November. There’s been a mountain of work, which you guys have driven.
“Self-motivated teams, the teams that can self regulate, they’re the ones that are going to come out of this and they’ll be in that position that we all want to be.
“It’s not going to be easy and none of us know exactly what’s around the corner, but I reckon if that care and connection remains, we’ll be in a really good space and you should be excited by that as well.
“There’s opportunity, and that’s for the team that cares for each other the best.”
Bell added that it was important for players to look after their families and set an example to the community during the leave period.
“This is a one in one hundred year event,” Bell said.
“Be strong for your own families, we care about you and we care about your families as well.
“We need you to also be leaders in the community. The social distancing, all those types of things, it’s going to be really important for these next four, eight, 12 weeks – however long it may be.”