Peel Thunder’s quest for a third consecutive WAFL premiership could be seriously bolstered after the club’s AFL affiliate Fremantle brought in a bumper crop of fresh faces through the 2017 NAB AFL Draft last Friday night.
The Dockers used arguably their best ever hand at the draft to welcome eight youngsters to their ranks, including high profile picks Andrew Brayshaw (second overall) and Adam Cerra (fifth).
Joining the two midfielders at Freo, and potentially Peel Thunder, is forward Hugh Dixon (pick 44), midfielder Mitch Crowden (pick 59), midfielder Tom North (pick 65), ruckman Lloyd Meek (pick 69), forward Sam Switkowski (pick 73) and ruckman Scott Jones (pick 75).
While Brayshaw and Cerra both loom as contenders for Fremantle’s round one team, it’s likely that most of the draftees will earn their stripes at the WAFL level.
It’s a thought that would bring a smile to the faces of most Peel Thunder fans, who have won the last two premierships with totals of 17 and 15 Dockers in their side respectively.
The Tasmanian-born Dixon is a potential boon for Peel’s forward line.
Standing at 195cm, the key forward was named Tasmania's Most Valuable Player for his academy series and got the nod for the Allies’ side for the 2017 national championships after averaging 11 disposals and booting nine goals in four games.
He is a chance to join the likes of experienced AFL forward Matt Taberner at Peel, which would form a strong one-two punch up front for the Thunder.
Mature age recruit Switkowski could also find himself lining up in Peel’s forward 50m arch.
The 21-year-old was part of the Box Hill Hawks’ leadership group in the VFL.
“I’m big on setting standards,” Switkowski told fremantlefc.com.au
“I think that’s something that my teammates at Box Hill really noticed and I gained a lot of respect for that.”
Both Meek and Jones could become integral parts of Peel’s ruck rotation, after premiership-winning ruckman Jon Griffin signed with his former club East Fremantle in the off-season.
Brayshaw, Cerra, Crowden and North would be welcome additions to Peel’s midfield should they suit up at the WAFL level, as the Thunder look to fill the void left by retired club legend Rory O’Brien.
The Dockers also welcomed youngsters Bailey Banfield and Stefan Giro to the club through the Rookie Draft on Monday.
On the flip side, if Fremantle’s new recruits spend more time at the AFL level than expected, Peel will benefit from the inclusion of seasoned AFL veterans in their place.
Past Fremantle draftees that have played significant roles for the Thunder include Connor Blakely, Ed Langdon, Luke Ryan, Darcy Tucker and Sean Darcy.