The Fremantle Dockers have appointed Phil Merriman as the club’s new high performance manager.
Merriman, who was most recently the head of strength and conditioning at Melbourne, was also a part of Hawthorn’s strength and conditioning team from 2011 to 2017, where he held separate roles of rehabilitation manager and physical performance coach.
He was also the acting physical performance manager at Melbourne for the second half of the 2019 season after a mid-season restructure.
Prior to commencing his career in the AFL, Merriman coached multiple hockey teams in the Victorian Premier League.
He holds a BA in Exercise Sports Science from Deakin University and a Master’s Degree in Exercise Science from Edith Cowan University.
Executive general manager of football Peter Bell said Merriman was a standout candidate from an impressive field of applicants, highlighting his experience working under Darren Burgess at Melbourne, Andrew Russell at Hawthorn as well as John Quinn, who has worked with the Australian track and field team, the Socceroos, Essendon and GWS.
Burgess is currently the high performance manager at Melbourne and has previously worked with Port Adelaide and Arsenal in the English Premier League.
“The club was really pleased with the calibre of the candidates that expressed an interest to take on the role as the high performance manager and Phil was a standout, not only for his experience in the area but for his cultural alignment with what we’re building at Fremantle,” Bell said.
“We are thrilled with the appointment and we can’t wait to introduce him to the football club, along with his wife Sarah and their two children.
“Phil has had a long career in physical performance. He’s learnt off some of the most experienced high performance practitioners in Australian sport including John Quinn, Darren Burgess and Andrew Russell.
“We feel that Phil’s knowledge, expertise, demeanour and enthusiasm will make him a valuable member of our team for a long period of time.”
Merriman said there were a number of factors that attracted him to take on the role at Fremantle.
“I can’t wait. I’m ready to make the move with the family and get over to Perth and really get stuck in,” Merriman said.
“I’m a coach myself in the hockey realms, and talking to a few colleagues who know Justin Longmuir well, I know that JL is someone who I’d really like to work with.
“Having spent time in Cairns with Melbourne at the same hotel as Fremantle late in the 2020 season, I just couldn’t believe how young and vibrant they were and I was really impressed with how humble and respectful they were as well. They were probably the two main factors.”
Merriman said that his main goal was to build a list that could be resilient to the rigours of the AFL.
“My goal initially is to set up a really good foundation with the staff and players that I’ll be working with and building strong relationships, so that players know that we come from a position of care but also a position of high performance as well,” Merriman said.
"I would like to get to a point where the players know that their bodies can hold up and perform, whether we have a two day break or an eight day break.
“This year at Melbourne, we didn’t know Covid was going to hit but one of the focuses we had was to build that resilience in the players.
“It’s something that’s important for the players to be ready for whatever the competition throws at us."