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Fremantle’s Danyle Pearce has opted to play for Peel on Saturday with the midfielder hoping to help steer the Thunder to a possible fourth consecutive WAFL finals series, while also allowing a young teammate to retain their place in Fremantle’s senior team.
On Saturday, Peel face East Perth at Rushton Park with the winner likely to take the fifth and final spot in the finals series.
Having played 15 games for Peel in 2018, Pearce said he feels invested in the Thunder’s season and added that he felt it would be better to allow a younger player to keep his spot.
“The club are in an exciting time. They’re rebuilding and they’ve got a lot of young blokes coming through and it’s great to see them have the opportunity and show what they can do,” Pearce said.
“I’ve played 95 per cent of (the season) at Peel. We’re in a really solid chase at the moment to make the finals.
“I feel very physically and mentally invested with Peel this year. I look forward to getting out there, getting a win and getting over the line to play finals.”
Pearce has taken a selfless attitude to his time at Peel, where he has played 26 games in the past two seasons.
The 258 AFL game player has worked hard on developing Fremantle’s emerging players, even though the same players would likely take his place in the AFL team.
“You’d think it this would make it harder but it’s actually made it easier,” Pearce said.
“We’ve got a lot of great boys who have come in and I wish them nothing but the best for their future.
“To get around the young boys like Darcy Tucker, Ed Langdon and this year’s draftees like Stef Giro, Mitch Crowden and Tom North, that’s made it an exciting change.
“Hopefully, in another 10 years time they’ll still be playing and going well and I’ll know I was there at the start to direct them in the right way.
“That would be nice to look back on.”
Pearce said he had a number of people to thank heading into retirement.
“I’d like to thank the physios, the club doctors, all the people in the uniform room, the assistant coaches and everyone behind the scenes,” Pearce said.
“I also can’t thank Ross Lyon enough for the opportunity to come over to WA.
“I feel very blessed to be a part of a strong period of Fremantle’s history and to play in the first ever Grand Final. It’s been an amazing ride.”
Pearce also paid a special tribute to his wife, Tara.
“Without a doubt, she deserves all the credit. She’s always there. We’ve been through so many great times and some challenging times,” Pearce said.
“She’s always that strong presence in my life.
“To my whole family. They feel all the ups and downs so a huge thank you for them for everything.”
Pearce said he still gets goosebumps thinking about playing in front of the Purple Army.
“We’ve got the most passionate and vocal fans you’ll find,” Pearce said.
“One of the most chilling memories I have is from the 2013 prelim when the game was in the bag and the Freo chant went up around Subi.
“That just sent tingles down my spine.
“Memories like that are going to be absolutely cherished and the fans are the big reason for that happening.
“Thank you to all the fans for their encouragement and critique over the years.
“I wish Freo nothing but the best and I hope they bounce back and have a great year next year and we’ll see Optus Stadium pumping.”