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  • Writer's pictureRebecca Ruthven

Youthful core group set to drive Dockers forward

Fremantle development coach Tendai Mzungu says fans should be confident in the depth on their list developing at Peel Thunder in the WAFL. 

With one of the youngest and most inexperienced sides in the AFL, Fremantle started their season in tremendous fashion going 3-1 to sit seventh on the ladder.

Just ten players have played over 100 games, while 25 have played under 50, with young guns like Andy Brayshaw, Caleb Serong and Luke Jackson leading the charge. 

However, speaking to Mzungu on Sports Breakfast, plenty of young Dockers are impressing at WAFL level, proving they’re ready to make the AFL jump - including defenders Josh Draper and Karl Worner.

“You do see players coming in and performing quite well at the (AFL) level,” he said. 

“It's very much a development space at times at Peel and trying to hone your craft and do your apprenticeship there, making sure that you're ready to perform when you come in. 

“I look at our list and how driven the younger players are, and how passionate they are and how willing they are to grow their game and learn. 

“Not everyone's going to make it, but we think that we've got the core group that can take us to where we want to go.” 

When discussing players, Draper was highlighted for his past few games in the AFL since debuting in round two. 

The Next Generation Academy product looks incredibly promising and has shouldered the responsibilities that come as an AFL key defender in Brennan Cox and Oscar McDonald’s absences. 

This included playing against Coleman medallists Charlie Curnow and Harry McKay in last week’s heavily debated 10-point loss to Carlton.

“He sees the game well, he's very athletic and he's got a really good turn of foot as well, which hopefully once he builds confidence in his game he'll be able to see a bit more of that explosiveness as well,” said Mzungu.

“I was lucky to work with him from the age of 14 and watched him develop and he's played a number of positions forward in ruck and even time as a midfielder. Once he got into the club we saw some real upside in being a key defender and bringing his strengths behind the footy. 

“He's a beauty, but he played reserves football last year at times, not even cracking a league game. He's pretty proud to see how far he's come, how much he's developed his game.”

For a young team, Mzungu says while players are eager to play, focusing on their values, strengths and weaknesses at WAFL is key to ensuring they’re a complete AFL player.

“Young players particularly are impatient, they want to play straight away and some do take longer,” he said.

“The taller players are generally the ones that take a little bit longer, and players come from different physicals. They just need to build their bodies to get to a level where they can compete at AFL level. 

“Some guys, like Cooper Simpson and Matt Johnson and Jye Amiss, they probably get to the level a little bit quicker, so there's gonna be some variations across the list. 

“Our job as a development coach is to really set them up and to keep them focused and dialled into what's important.”



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