FREMANTLE reeled in an all-local haul in this year’s National Draft, including a couple of bargain Next Generation Academy (NGA) talents and youngsters with senior WAFL experience at the top end. After finishing 12th in 2020 under new coach Justin Longmuir, Fremantle looms as a fast-rising club with one of the best young midfields in the competition. That youthful exuberance should continue to shine with the latest intake, as a versatile crop enters the Dockers’ ranks looking to make an immediate impact. With a couple of starting roles arguably up for grabs, that could well be the case in 2021 as the West Australian side pushes for finals relevancy.
#14 Heath Chapman (West Perth/Western Australia)
#27 Nathan O’Driscoll (Perth/Western Australia)
#50 Brandon Walker (East Fremantle/Western Australia)
#54 Joel Western (Claremont/Western Australia)
Josh Treacy (Bendigo Pioneers), Bailey Banfield (Re-listed)
The first round of this year’s draft was littered with versatile tall options and Heath Chapman was one of them. The Dockers may have been tempted by some of the midfielders still available, but instead selected the 193cm West Perth product with Pick 14. While Fremantle lays claim to a bunch of tall defenders already, Chapman’s running capacity and marking ability have him pegged as one who could develop either as a wingman, or even a swingman.
With Nathan O’Driscoll on the board after round one, the Dockers opted to trade up and secure his services at the start of the second round. His value is something which divided clubs and analysts alike, but should prove a very handy selection. He joins his sister, Emma in purple and promises to provide a tireless work-rate to go with an excellent inside-outside balance in midfield. It may be a tough engine room to crack, but O’Driscoll is a versatile type who can fit in on each line.
Fremantle staff would have come away laughing as NGA graduates Brandon Walker and Joel Western were bid on with picks in the 50s. Both players are arguably top 30 talents and have some serious athleticism to go with their footballing nous. Walker is an attacking half-back who love to take the game on and makes good decisions by foot, with his overhead marking another handy trait.
Western was the Claremont Colts captain this year and overcame injury to cap of a stellar campaign, also claiming best afield honours in the first WA All-Stars game. His ground level work and acceleration from congestion are excellent, with clean skills and goal sense making him an option to feature on Fremantle’s half-forward line early.
Rounding out the Dockers’ overall haul, Josh Treacy proved their only fresh selection in the Rookie Draft as Bailey Banfield was re-listed. The Bendigo Pioneers product is another Vic Country selection and one who could play the role Jesse Hogan was recruited for, as a tall target up forward with good presence. Treacy is an aggressive type who loves to throw his weight around and is working on building his running game to potentially even move further afield.
Featured Image: NGA product Joel Western is finally a Docker | Credit: (Retrieved from) Fremantle FC