Fremantle Dockers Coach, Ross Lyon has axed six players after his team’s belting from Port Adelaide on Sunday.
Zac Dawson is a big out as Lyon debuts Griffin Logue and Harley Balic for Saturday nights match against the Western Bulldogs.
Lyon said he understood the position Fremantle was in and saw the need to “start playing kids.”
“It’s just a continued build on last year. Everyone got an opportunity, and we weren’t able to deliver, so it was obvious we needed to act and make some changes,” Lyon said.
“We think it will give us some real enthusiasm. So it’s exciting, in particular for Logue and Balic, two debutants, and then Ethan Hughes has only played a couple of games.
“There’s a real upside in all of those players. They won’t be perfect, but we’ve got a football program that prepares them and Peel plays in a similar fashion, so they should be able to come in and execute their role.”
The 19-year old was picked in the Western Australian Draft in 2016.
In the same pool as Sam Powell-Pepper, Logue hasn’t had as much play time and could leave everyone questioning whether he was the better choice.
The draft experts ranked the top WA draftees as Sam Petrevski-Seton (Carlton, pick 5), Griffin Logue (Freo 8), Tim English (Dogs 19), Sam Powell-Pepper (PA, 18) and Shai Bolton (Richmond, pick 29).
If they’re right, Fremantle has a gem in Logue.
The young defender soared toward the end of 2016 after an incredible NAB AFL Draft Combine where he broke ten minutes for the 3km time trial. To further his accomplishments, Logue was the joint winner of the beep test, won the vertical jump, finished fourth in standing vertical jump and scored in the top 10 for repeat sprints.
Athletic is one work to describe Logue, with outstanding intercept ability cutting off opposition attacks and can rebound out of defence with ease.
Logue’s versatility could be a huge advantage showing a 34-posession game for the Swan Districts Colts towards the end of 2016.
An athletic and flexible defender can contribute substantially to Fremantle’s backline, and Logue shows all the qualities to be just that.
Harley Balic is a traffic and attacking midfielder who earned himself an All-Australian selection in 2015 following an excellent National under 18s year before being drafted by the Dockers in 2015.
Many predicted the midfielder to be in the first round of selection in the 2015 National Draft, with the AFL’s draft expert Cal Twomey ranking Balic 12th in the talent pool.
A serious wrist injury, however, saw Balic slide to the end of the second round where Fremantle picked him at 38.
Balic missed the first year at Fremantle with ongoing surgeries rendering him unable to train and play.
The youngster missed the first 19 games of the season but returned late in the year for Peel Thunder where he played reserves.
Not only did Balic play a key role in the Thunders maiden premiership averaging 20 disposals across the Finals series, but he holds the leading possession count in the WAFL with 30 disposals.
Balic is great overhead, hard at the ball and shows impressive work rate. He took an astonishing 11 marks in round 3 against South Fremantle and excelled in contested possession.
Together with Nat Fyfe, the duo could be an unstoppable pair. The Bulldogs will provide an exciting matchup for Fyfe and debutant, Balic.
A latecomer to Australia Rules Football, Ethan Hughes only picked up the game in 2012.
His first season at Harvey-Brunswick Leschenault (HBL) earned him a best on ground medal in the South West Football League.
The club regularly used the natural forward as a ruckman despite his stature of 187cm, a testament to his outstanding leap.
In 2014, Hughes moved to Perth to play in Swan Districts where his athleticism and skillset impressed the Dockers who picked him up at pick 13 in the 2014 AFL Rookie Draft.
Making his debut in the final round of regular season against Port Adelaide, Hughes managed 22 disposals and eight marks.
He then played consecutive games for Fremantle in 2016 (rounds 7 to 9) showcasing his incredible marking ability but injured his calf and missed significant playtime.
Lyon praised Hughes in PerthNow last September saying he’s a silhouette of Fyfe.
“He’s a really terrific athlete, in the Fyfe mould really,” he said.
“Big boy, runs really well, competitive winger, half-back. Clean ball-handler.”
With these attributes and some, Hughes has enormous potential as a utility in the ruck, up forward or in high defence.
Despite Fremantle’s lacklustre start, these rookies and part-timers could be the missing cog in the Dockers machine.
A disappointing loss to Geelong and belting from Port Adelaide have been a wakeup call and could be for the better.
Playing these rookies could prove a phenomenal decision for Lyon and his Dockers.