Harvey’s tall dangers: Dockers pre-draft

As part of a club-by-club series, we look at Mark Harvey’s local youth policy, albeit with one looming exception.

Fremantle Dockers Training Session

FREMANTLE
Live selections: 4, 20, 36, 48, 49, 52, 68
Rookie promotion selections: 79 (Greg Broughton)

As with last year, the Dockers hierarchy have decided to clear their list of dead wood and load up on draft selections. It is an indication of how terrible their list was after the Chris Connolly era that it has taken them two years to get somewhere near completing the job.

One would expect that the strategy that coach Mark Harvey took into last year’s draft will also apply for this one: namely, picking the eyes out of the WAFL for local kids who don’t suffer from the GHF (go home factor) and maybe have a little better conditioning and match toughness from playing with the men of the WAFL than the spring chickens who have been hothoused in the TAC Cup. Harvey had some fabulous successes with this plan in 2009, including Greg Broughton, Nick Suban, Matthew DeBoer and Clancee Pearce. I liked the theory last year, and there’s no reason not to go with it once again – albeit that Harvey might be competing more fiercely with John Worsfold for the best homegrown kids now.

On the subject of holes in their depth charts, the one that immediately jumps out is the talls. both forward and back. In attack, Matthew Pavlich will allegedly be returned to his customary forward line positioning more often in 2010, which makes the whol structure look a lot better. Despite the clear-out, which included Adam Campbell, Harvey has inexplicably retained Ryan Murphy. I can only guess that the reason is contractual. While there are some second-year prospects still on the rookie list in Casey Sibosado and Hamish Shepheard, this chart is looking a little shallow.

The tall defender position could also do with some work, where the trade of Marcus Drum to Geelong and the delisting of Josh Head leaves them without cover for Chris Tarrant and the oft-injured trio of Luke McPharlin, Antoni Grover and Michael Johnson – all of whom have been used as pinch hitters up forward in previous years. Add the fact that Steven Dodd won’t return from injury until mid-year, and there could be some large white spaces on the magnetic board to fill.

All of this weakness explains the wooing of 27-year-old Adam McPhee from Essendon, which is against the youth policy of the club, but well within the mandate of the Refitted Bomber policy of the coach. The prodigal twig looks like he will become another of the half dozen Docker talls who can be used forward or back, though I would argue his best work is done in defence.

The hope for long-suffering fans is that Fremantle’s starting 22 in round one is going to look better due to many of its existing stars having better pre-seasons: Rhys Palmer and Ryan Crowley in the midfield, and Chris Mayne, Des Headland and Hayden Ballantyne in the forward line all had their 2009 cruelled by injury. With the trade of Brett Peake to St Kilda, the retirement of Andrew Browne and the delisting of Andrew Foster, however, there are more than enough chances for younger running types to claim regular spots in the bottom end of Freo’s senior team, particularly early in the season as DeBoer and Pearce have been demoted back to the rookie list. Just like this year, there will be great interest in the club’s later picks as rookie smokies, especially the mature-agers plucked from the WAFL. Ignore the Docker kids at your peril.

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