Fremantle champion Nat Fyfe has stood down as the club’s captain after six seasons in the role, saying it was a tough call but would make the club stronger.
He told his teammates of his decision on Tuesday. Fyfe, a two-time Brownlow Medallist began in the role in 2017.
“The decision was tough. It has been something I’ve known for the last three or four weeks,” Fyfe said.
“Last year was a challenging year for me individually, but a great year for the club and it started to pave the way for a transition.
“Intuitively, I knew that it was an exciting opportunity for the club for me to step aside and let someone else come through.
“It took a while for the emotions and my mind to line up with my intuition, it feels like I was letting go of a dream in some ways, but once I connected with that feeling, it opens up the possibility for so much more.
“I’m optimistic about what this transition can do for the club.”
Fyfe said he would continue to help teammates where needed, just outside of an official leadership role.
“By stepping away completely from the leadership group that allows me to focus all my energy on helping our other forwards and learning my craft again,” Fyfe said.
“It also allows someone else to step into the leadership group potentially and give us that fresh push of leadership which will propel us forward.”
Fremantle GM of Football Peter Bell said: “On behalf of the Fremantle Football Club I would like to thank Nathan for his vitally important contribution as captain for the past six seasons.
“Last year we emerged from a significant list rebuild into a return to finals, and as captain through that period, Nathan was a vital stabilising force and leader through that transition.
“Nathan led by example both on and off the field, and the strength we boast as a Club right now from a talent, work ethic and leadership perspective can be attributed to his guidance.
“I understand Nathan’s desire to both stand aside as captain as well as any formal leadership duties so he can best focus on his football, but we know that his influence on the group will continue.”
The club is yet to announce its new captain or leadership group.
Meanwhile, star Fremantle midfielder Andrew Brayshaw has labelled prize recruit Luke Jackson his No.1 “most exciting prospect” this pre-season.
Jackson’s move to the Dockers was the big talking point of the trade period, with the former Melbourne ruckman determined to lead Fremantle to a flag.
The 21-year-old’s ability to play in the ruck and up forward will give Fremantle vital flexibility and help fill the void left by the departed Rory Lobb (Bulldogs).
Brayshaw has been blown away by Jackson’s skill at ground level, and cannot wait to see the big man in action during the season.
“There’s a few that have really impressed me but I’m probably most excited for Luke Jackson,” Brayshaw told Perth’s 6PR when asked about the club’s pre-season.
“He’s shown already that he can be a really dominant ruck and forward prospect.
“As a big fella, his ability to almost play as another midfielder once he’s tapped it down (is) really exciting, and he comes out the front of stoppages and takes the game on.
“For a big bloke, he’s got really good skills in tight. He is probably my number one most exciting prospect.”
Brayshaw has also been impressed by Jaeger O’Meara, who was traded from Hawthorn during the off-season.
O’Meara’s arrival will help offset the loss of decorated midfielder David Mundy, who retired at the age of 37.
Fremantle ended their six-year finals drought last season, beating the Bulldogs in a thrilling elimination match before falling to Collingwood by 20 points in the semi-finals.
The Dockers have set themselves the target of winning a flag by 2025, and the player group are hungry to achieve that goal.
“We all got a taste of what (finals) is like, to be right up there, and we all loved it,” Brayshaw said.
“We want to be a top-four side and give ourselves the best chance going into finals.
“We don’t want to be a side that’s just making up the numbers. We want to be right up the top and that’s what drives all the players and all the coaches.”