The Fremantle Dockers have provided rich pickings for Perth Demons football club, who have secured three new AFL draftees for the upcoming WAFL season.
The 2011 AFL/WAFL club allocation process took place on Friday, with Perth picking Nick Lower with pick number one overall, Jayden Pitt at pick four, and Gavin Roberts with pick nine.
New Perth senior coach Damien McMahon said he was thrilled to land the three Dockers, who he believed would help the club improve on 2010's disappointing last-placed finish.
“We've been running the rule over the new recruits at the Dockers and the Eagles during pre-season training to assess which players would best suit the needs of our club,” he said.
McMahon said Nick Lower, who played for Norwood last year in the SANFL and was runner-up in the Magarey Medal, fitted the bill perfectly as a strong-bodied, mature-age midfielder.
“Being a rookie-listed player at Freo, we'd like to think we'll get some quality football out of Nick, and he's just what we need to help lead the big group of young midfielders between the ages of 18 and 22 we have in our squad,” he said.
McMahon said his club had considered its options for pick four in the allocation process, with West Coast's young ruckman/forward Scott Lycett and Dockers' mature-age backman Peter Faulks on the radar.
“In the end we didn't go for Lycett because the Eagles were adamant they only wanted him used as a key forward this season,” he said.
“We could have used a ruckman, but we have a number of key forward options, and we didn't want to sacrifice the development of the younger guys in our squad like Fremantle squad member Joel Houghton, and our young centre-half-forward Haydn Busher.”
While the Perth football brains trust, consisting of McMahon and football operations manager Darren Solomon, were keen on Peter Faulks, he was snapped up by Peel Thunder with pick three.
“Faulks would have been a good fit because he is another mature-age recruit who could have bolstered the experience of our backline,” McMahon said.
“But in the wash-up I am rapt to get Jayden Pitt – he is a first-round draft pick and an exciting prospect.”
McMahon said 2010 Geelong Falcons coach and current Geelong Cats development coach Paul Hood was a massive wrap for Pitt, rating him as the best kick in the TAC Cup last year, on both sides of his body.
“Jayden is very much an outside player at the moment, but as his body gets bigger and develops he will improve his inside game as well.”
Pitt will likely play most, if not all, the season with Perth in the WAFL, as he builds up his light 189cm, 70kg frame, before he can mix it regularly with the big boys in the AFL.
However, it wouldn't be too much of a surprise if Mark Harvey throws him in at the deep end at some point during the season, given the Dockers' mentor's propensity to challenge his new recruits in their debut year.
With the final pick in the WAFL player allocation, Perth secured another Norwood product, in 19-year-old midfielder Gavin Roberts.
McMahon said: “Gavin comes very highly rated, and if he hadn't had so many problems with injuries in recent seasons he would probably have ended up as a top pick in the national draft instead of a rookie.
“I see him as a project player for Freo, and as long as he gets his body right he'll be valuable addition to our squad because at 188cm he's a good size, and he can play in a number of positions through the midfield and across half-forward and half-back.”
McMahon predicted new Dockers' squad member and reigning Perth best-and-fairest winner Tendai Mzungu would prove an instant hit at AFL level, and is on course to start in the best 22 in round one.
“Tendai is probably the fittest guy at Fremantle, and I think it's highly likely that he'll play a lot more games for the Dockers than he will for us here at the Demons.”
Football operations manager Darren Solomon said Perth were very excited to have three quality AFL players on board to help with what he felt was an emerging list.
“We have added a number of experienced players including ex-Port Adelaide forward Damon White, 2010 Hawthorn rookie midfielder Jarrod Kaylor-Thompson, key defender Aaron Zucconi, high running half-forward Seamus Young, former East Perth half-back Frank Agostino and son-of-a-gun and ex-Essenden boy Dean Dick,” he said.
“The addition of these players should make us a much more competitive outfit in season 2011.”