Executive general manager of football Peter Bell went on 6PR on Wednesday evening for an extensive interview with hosts Paul Hasleby and Karl Langdon.
In the wide-ranging interview, Bell discussed the Jesse Hogan trade, Fremantle’s forward line, the new Next Generation Academy rules, list sizes and addressed a number of trade rumours.
What did you make of Jesse Hogan’s time at Fremantle?
Jesse came across for a couple of years and everyone is aware that it was a significant cost to get Jesse across to the club. We had hoped that it would have turned out a lot better. It got to a stage where it was in our best interest and Jesse’s best interest that he pursue his football career elsewhere and that will be with the GWS Giants. A late pick, third round pick obviously and it’s a very obvious statement to say that it cost us a lot. It hasn’t turned out so as a football club we take accountability for that and we have to move on. What it does allow us to do is it frees up quite a bit of TPP space, given that Jesse’s walked away from his contract and it potentially allows us to do some other things as well.
Will Fremantle look to bolster their list in the trade period and will there be a focus on adding to your key forward depth?
I think more than likely we’ll be going to the draft more than the trades, you never say never and we’re looking at a few different scenarios and we’re constantly workshopping with (head of player personnel) David Walls and his team.
We’re really pleased with Matt Taberner’s year, clearly in the All Australian squad of 40 and with him and Rory Lobb, who are two and three in contested marks in the competition. So that’s exciting.
What we need to do better is get the ball into them more often and more to their advantage, so I think those two, injuries permitting, make a pretty formidable duo.
The other forward that we do have on the list who I think is also a pretty good midfielder is Nat Fyfe, who also could spend a bit of time forward.
Sam Sturt is another that, he’s 188cm so he’s not your key position, but he is very quick and kicked three goals on debut before getting a syndesmosis injury early in the season.
We think that mixture is still pretty threatening, particularly if we can move the ball a bit better and again to their advantage for those forwards. Brennan Cox is a really flexible player, he’s someone we can look at as well but I’m comfortable that those forwards can kick us enough winning scores next year.
There have been rumours of Jordan Clarke making a return to WA. Have Fremantle been looking at him?
I’m always reluctant to go into details on individual players during trade period, particularly individual players that are contracted. Jordan’s a wonderfully talented player who had an unbelievable first season for Geelong and then, for whatever reason, struggled to crack into that defence there this year. I know that he had a few injuries as well.
As with all of the young West Australians in the competition, we monitor the situation but in Jordan’s case he’s a contracted player at Geelong, so we monitor from afar and we’ll see where that ends up.
Are Fremantle be looking to trade Connor Blakely?
Connor wants to play every week and he’s at that age where he’s played some really good football and he would have been incredibly frustrated to find himself out of the team for long patches of the year.
Where it sits is he is absolutely 100 per cent aware that there are others in front of him right now, that doesn’t mean things can’t change. We’ve all been around football to know that things can change really quickly whether it’s through an outstanding pre-season or whether it’s through injury and suddenly you’re getting the good looks and you’re performing on match day.
Where it sits is Connor is absolutely aware of where he sits currently and it’s up to him, he’s a contacted player, he can come back and train the house down over pre-season and try and get one of those midfield spots or he’s well within his rights, where he, his management might and family might think that there more opportunities. Absolutely he’s a contracted player so I’m expecting Connor to be at the footy club.
Can you address the stories that suggested Fremantle should look to trade Adam Cerra?
We won’t be trading Adam Cerra. Adam’s had a brilliant year, he’s had a real thorough grounding in football, just turned 21 after the season, played over 50 games. Andrew Brayshaw the same and (Cerra) finished third and (Brayshaw) fourth in our best and fairest, which is really difficult to do any year but particularly before you’ve turned 21 years of age. Those two in particular, they form the nucleus of our midfield for hopefully the next 10-12 years.
How are Fremantle progressing with hiring a new high performance manager?
We’ve got a short list of our short list if that makes sense, so we’re just coming to the end. We’re really pleased that we have some high calibre candidates that we’re going through and we’ll be looking to make an announcement soon. I’m really confident that it will be a well-received announcement and looking forward to the impact that person can have.
How will the new Next Generation Academy rules announced today by the AFL affect Fremantle?
Essentially every club has a zone, their Next Generation Academy Zone and…if there’s a player that comes through that zone that is a signed concession to your football club, you’re able to match a bid at a discount should that persons name be called on draft night.
Liam Henry is an example, last year Carlton bid at pick nine we matched the bid and were able to draft Liam at a 20 per cent discount.
The AFL are making some changes as to how that discount works, I think next year if there is a bid from (picks) one to 20 you can’t match the bid. So in the case of (Western Bulldogs academy player) Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who’s in the top echelon of players this year - if it was next year, the Bulldogs wouldn’t be able to match that bid if he was drafted between one and 20.
For the clubs, it’s a big investment but I think it adds great diversity and some of the great stories have come through the Next Generation Academy so hopefully, that continues to be the case.
Which players are available through he NGA in the draft this year?
This year we have a number of eligible players, I suppose the two that are spoken about are Joel Western who played for Claremont, he’s a smaller player but one of the quickest players that’s ever been tested through the AFL, so he’s exciting. Brandon Walker and his twin brother Chris at East Fremantle, Brandon’s a great athlete as well, there’s also Keanu Haddow from East Fremantle, so they’re some of our NGA candidates for this year.
Have you had any news from the AFL on list sizes for 2021?
No, we don’t have clarity yet, which is really difficult. Fremantle fans would be looking at the situation with players like David Mundy, Lachie Schultz, Brett Bewley and Bailey Banfield…so until we get clarity from the AFL about how many players we can have on the list, it makes any decision really difficult and there’s a lot of players throughout the AFL who are in that position, which must be really challenging for them.