Despite starring as a midfielder in the colts for Claremont for the past two seasons, new Fremantle draftee Joel Western has his sights set on a small forward role as an AFL player.
Western played an important midfield role in Claremont’s 2019 colts premiership with 23 disposals, 15 contested possessions, four clearances and six tackles in the grand final.
No player at colts level over the past two seasons had more contested possessions, ground ball gets and inside 50s than Western, while he also had the second most disposals, score involvements and running bounces in those years.
At 172cm, Western believes his body type and skillset would make him more suited to play up front with Fremantle.
“I think I’ll be a small forward at AFL level. At colts level, the Claremont coaches wanted me to play in the midfield and get a bit of momentum going forward for the team,” Western said.
“I’d love to play up forward through my career. I don’t have the biggest of bodies and I think I can have a real impact down there kicking goals. I also like to model my game on people like ‘Sonny’ (Michael) Walters and Shai Bolton from Richmond, but ultimately I want to be my own player.”
Western endured a nervous wait as the final of Fremantle’s four National Draft selections at no.54, however the nerves turned to elation when the NGA product’s name was called out in a bid by the Western Bulldogs, which Fremantle matched.
“I didn’t actually see my name called out as my head was in my hands,” Western said.
“My sister screamed when my name popped up and everything just turned after that.
“Mum instantly started breaking down with tears, we were all just filled with emotions. We’re just all so grateful that I’ve finally made it.
“There’s been a lot of tough challenges this year, so to get that end result is just so rewarding.
“It’s still sinking in now that I’m on an AFL list. It’s been a dream of mine for the whole 18 years I’ve been alive. I’ve always loved the game since I was very little, so being able to get this chance at AFL level is awesome.”
Western said he couldn’t wait to link up with his fellow draftees.
While very close with fellow NGA product Brandon Walker and WA teammates Heath Chapman and Nathan O’Driscoll, Western didn’t forget about rookie selection Josh Treacy, who will make his way to WA from regional Victoria this weekend.
“Brandon and I have been really close mates for the past few years and have come even closer this year going into the draft,” Western said.
“The other two boys in ‘Chappy’ (Chapman) and Nathan, they’re ripping blokes as well and I’m really close with them. I’m excited to meet Josh Treacy as well.”
As an NGA product, Western feels he has an idea of what to expect when he starts at Fremantle.
“Guys like Heath and Nathan haven’t had the involvement with the club that me and Brandon have had,” Western said.
“We probably won’t be going in as nervous as we’ve seen what football players go through in their every day lives and we’ve spent a week training with the guys. It will be a big help, settling in and getting to know everyone as well.”