To The Purple Army,
Last week was a tough start to the season.
While it was only one game from a 23-week home and away season, we were obviously disappointed to go over to Melbourne and lose.
The fact that we hung in the game quite well, despite not playing anywhere close to our best footy, is a platform we can build from.
A month ago, there were so many reasons to be excited about what this team could achieve in 2021.
But a round one loss and injuries to key players is obviously not an ideal start.
It’s expected that these challenges will happen through a season and it’s crucial we rise to this one and adapt our system to whoever is on the park.
We train to play a system to ensure that we’re not reliant on any individuals. As we saw with our backline in 2020.
Admittedly, you won’t easily find a replacement for a player like Rory Lobb, who’s a talented and versatile forward and ruck who stands at 206cm.
One solution, that I’m sure you’ve seen in any Freo related media this pre-season, is around whether I should spend more time forward - something I think this is clearly a nod to the capability of our young midfield.
It’s the recognition that guys like Andrew Brayshaw, Adam Cerra and Caleb Serong are ready to make that next step up.
We saw it against Melbourne - their efforts in the middle, lead by a debutant ruckman in Lloyd Meek, helped us win the clearances and midfield battle.
That is going to be happening throughout the year, and it means that guys like myself and David Mundy can be utilised in other roles. We feel quite comfortable that our midfield group can handle the challenge.
And I can’t think of any better reason to come to a Freo game than getting to see the best young talent in the country in the best stadium in Australia.
And that talent isn’t restricted to the midfield.
There’s so much to be excited about across the lines, including the likes of Hayden Young, Sam Sturt, Liam Henry and Heath Chapman, who will make his debut this Sunday.
We also have Josh Treacy, a rookie key forward, who is not far away.
This core of players will be the catalyst for when we start to string together 14-plus win seasons and play finals again.
There’s also another big factor to take into account in our growth as a Club.
In the coming years, we are going to turn Optus Stadium into a fortress like we had with Subiaco.
With a young group, having your support will go a long way in making Optus Stadium an even tougher place to visit for opposition teams.
That starts this Sunday against the Giants.
We all thrive off the support you give us by coming to games and being involved in the purple wave that I believe is going to take over the state in the coming years.
So get your purple, bring a mate and get involved. I can’t wait to see you at the footy.
And a final shout out to our AFLW team, who have a massive game against the Kangaroos this Saturday as they look to lock in a home final. It’s been great to watch their journey, especially after the heartbreak of 2020, and I wish them all the best for the weekend.