Fremantle are set to unveil two new players against the Gold Coast Suns on Saturday at Optus Stadium, with Brandon Walker and Joel Western to make their AFL debuts.
The pair both came to Freo via the Club’s Next Generation Academy, with Fremantle matching bids at no.50 for Walker and no.54 for Western in the 2020 NAB AFL National Draft.
The pair were told of their selection during Thursday’s team meeting, where senior coach Justin Longmuir announced the news one by one, starting with Walker.
Longmuir credited the work Walker put in during the pre-season as he recovered from a foot injury sustained prior to his arrival at the Club.
“The big news is we have a debut with Walks!” Longmuir said.
“It’s exciting mate and you’ve really earned it. Opportunities in AFL footy come in all shapes and sizes, and as a match committee, we really think you deserve your opportunity and you’re ready on the back of the work you’ve put in over the whole pre-season.
“You were on that ERGO bike just smashing it out and getting the most out of everything.
“Since you (joined main training) it’s your work rate, you get in good positions, it’s really impressed us.
“You’ve been a part of us for a long time with your pathway into the club (via the Next Generation Academy), now onto the list. We’re super excited to see you out there.”
Longmuir praised the work Western had put in on the defensive side of his game.
“You’ve been a part of the Club for a long time, a part of our pathway (through the Next Generation Academy) for a long time,” Longmuir said.
“I think early in the WAFL season, your offence has always been there. You bring your strengths to the game in your offence.
“We challenged you on your ability to bring pressure and the way you approached that challenge has been first class and I’ve been saying that behind the scenes and it’s worth mentioning to the group.
“You’ve embraced it, sought feedback from ‘Boydy’ (assistant coach Matthew Boyd), done your work with ‘Ready’ (development coach Adam Read) and we think you’ve got that up to an AFL level mate, it’s awesome and you deserve it.”
Both Walker and Western said they were thrilled to debut alongside each other.
“I was pretty surprised! I thought it was going to be Joel straight up (when Longmuir announced his debut). I’m shocked and I’m so keen to play and get out there,” Walker said.
“Joel and I have been playing footy since about year six. It’s been a while playing together and to debut on the same day, it’s really cool.
“I’m just so keen and I’m shaking right now!”
Western said it was a literal dream come true.
“It was really funny because last night I was actively dreaming about it, thinking I was playing and that I might be a chance,” Western said.
“I didn’t think much of it when I woke up but then coming into the club today, and seeing (Longmuir announce) Walks’ debut, it was just being so happy for him.
“Then to hear (Longmuir announce) another debutant I thought I was in the mix again. To hear my name called out was just a dream come true. I’m still pinching myself now.”
Thanks to Tyrepower for powering our Next Generation Academy