Fremantle have confirmed they won’t be participating in Wednesday’s mid-season rookie draft, despite a concerning injury list.
The Dockers had the option to put a sidelined player on their long-term injury, like youngsters Heath Chapman or Sam Sturt whose seasons are over with shoulder and knee injuries respectively, to free up a list spot.
The club’s executive general manager, Peter Bell, explained several factors were behind the decision, including the chance to expose their current players to senior football instead.
“We also gave strong consideration to the resources required to transition a new player into our program which, given the reduction to the soft cap, are increasingly finite,” Bell told the club website.
“It is generally our practice to make a minimum two-season commitment to young players that we draft, and for 2021 our preferred conduit is via the national draft.
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“Our preference is, as often as possible, to expose our current list to AFL playing opportunities throughout the remainder of 2021 season.”
The Dockers have one of the largest casualty wards in the competition including premiership defender Joel Hamling (ankle), veteran Stephen Hill (hamstring), leading goal-kicker Matt Taberner (ankle) and first-round picks Sturt and Chapman.
The key defensive stocks are the most worrying with Hamling and Griffin Logue (calf) both sidelined and Alex Pearce working his way back from a knee injury in the WAFL.
So far 13 clubs have picks in the draft, with Gold Coast, Carlton, Collingwood, Melbourne and North Melbourne all with a pair of selections.
Adelaide, Essendon, GWS, Hawthorn, Port Adelaide, St Kilda and Sydney have one pick ahead of the Tuesday afternoon deadline.
West Coast are yet to rule out taking part in the draft but currently don’t have a spot on their list.
More than 600 footballers Australia-wide, including 91 WA-based players, have thrown their hat in the ring.