Draft day is undeniably a highlight on any coach’s calendar, and for Fremantle’s AFLW senior coach Trent Cooper it rings true.
“It’s one of the best days of the year…to be able to do that, to help some girls realise their dreams and start a journey together…it’s just fantastic to see,” Cooper said.
Sarah Verrier, Mikayla Morrison and Tiah Haynes were selected by Fremantle on Tuesday evening, completing Freo’s squad for 2021.
Speaking on Sport FM, Cooper said year on year the aim was to look at ways of improving his squad to help stay in contention with the top teams across the competition.
Cooper said the clear objective in 2021 is to pick up where they left off after the AFLW season came to an abrupt finish in March of this year.
“We’re actually finalised at the moment with 30 players…we are at capacity,” Cooper said.
“It means we can look forward to getting stuck in on 5 November when our pre-season starts and get right back into it.”
“Last year we happened to win a few close games that a couple sides didn’t…but there really wasn’t a lot between the top four or five sides at all.
“We were pretty good (in 2020), but we need to keep improving to stay up with the top sides and we think these three girls will improve us again.”
Cooper said the acquisition of Verrier and Morrison will add some important depth to Freo’s midfield and forward line groups.
Verrier’s close friendship and link up work with Freo ruck Mim Strom has proven successful at state level, while Cooper believes that Morrison will add further X-factor to an already dangerous Freo forward line.
“The (Strom and Verrier) families know each other well and Mim was very excited to have Sarah onboard,” Cooper said.
“They linked up really well together in the state 18’s last year, so we think it could be a ruck-rover combination we see for a long time at Freo.
“Mikayla can do some amazing things that you just can’t teach, so we’re really excited to have her onboard.
“We think she will fit in really well with our game style and we think she can add to our forward line and make it even more unpredictable to the competition.”
Meanwhile, Haynes’ journey is arguably one of the more inspiring stories to come from Freo’s draft hand, as she makes her return to the club.
Part of Fremantle’s inaugural women’s team in 2017, Haynes’ horror run with ACL and shoulder injuries across her footballing journey has seen her miss lengthy stints of football.
Over the last three years, the 27-year-old missed the entire 2018 and 2019 campaigns before managing a full WAFLW season in 2020 and was considered Subiaco’s best in last month’s WAFLW grand final.
“It was a hard phone call, I couldn’t hear Tiah because she was crying so much, she was really excited,” Cooper said.
“It was a no-brainer for us to get her back, she gives us coverage in a lot of different positions, and she is immensely popular with our group.
“My phone rang hot straight afterwards from the girls saying we had done a good job in picking her up.
“She is hugely popular with the group and she is someone who can slot straight in for round one and play a role for us.”