Bulldogs welcome back Schloithe
South Fremantle head of football Charlie Burke says the club is delighted to have star midfielder Haiden Schloithe back on board for the 2024 season.
The 30-year-old retired from WAFL football in 2022 and split a sabbatical year between North Fremantle in the Perth Football League’s B Grade and winning a premiership with his hometown club Katanning in the Upper Great Southern Football League, but the Bulldogs announced on Monday that he would pull on the red and white again next year.
Burke told Sports Breakfast the 2017 Sandover Medalist, four-time WJ Hughes Medalist and 2020 premiership player would add invaluable experience to a young group.
“(He) didn’t take a lot of convincing. We kept the number one available all season last year and there were whispers early last year that he would potentially come back,” Burke said.
“Todd had a chat with him a month or so ago and I picked up the final bits of the puzzle more recently.
“He’s certainly coming back for the right reasons. Really keen to get back into the red and white, which is great.
“He’s such a competitor. He’s got really high standards that he puts on himself, so there’s no doubt he’s going to do the work over the preseason.”
The Bulldogs have been actively recruiting in the early stages of the offseason, with former West Coast utility Isiah Winder the other marquee recru
Burke said he was delighted to bring the 21-year-old, who played seven AFL games across three years with the Eagles, to Fremantle Oval.
“I know Izzy from my days at Peel … I’ve got a good relationship with him,” he said.
“He’s hungry to get back on an AFL list at some stage.
“He’s trying to set up a career away from footy as well. He’ll do some work with the Stephen Michael Foundation, which will be terrific for him, he’s really passionate about youth mentoring, particularly in the Indigenous space.”
The club’s other recruits - former Peel prospect Luke Polson, Perth midfielder Connor McDonald, and Glenelg defender Lewis Rayson - are all 20 years of age or younger, with Burke saying they would make able replacements for some of the club’s departed stars.
“Brock Higgins and Jacob Dragovich have said that they won't continue next year. We were pretty sure that was going to be the case at the end of last season,” he said.
“Brandon Ah Chee, we’re just giving as much time to him as possible. It’s probably more likely that he won’t go around.
“Matty Parker’s signed on for another year. You look at Parker, Gallucci, Florenca, Pearson, they’re almost new recruits for us next year if they can be 100% fit.”
Burke said the club would look to announce a ready-made replacement for forward-ruck Jimmy Miller, who has departed for VFL side Port Melbourne, inside the next week.