“Andrew Brayshaw the same and (Cerra) finished third and (Brayshaw) fourth in our best and fairest, which is really difficult to do any year but particularly before you’ve turned 21.”
Bell said the duo, who were contracted until the end of 2021, would form the nucleus of the team’s midfield for hopefully the next 10-12 years.
We’ll be looking to make an announcement soon. I’m really confident that it will be a well-received announcement and looking forward to the impact that person can have.
Blakely managed five games in 2020 and the 65-gamer was given permission to test the market given the 24-year-old was overtaken in the midfield pecking order by Cerra, Brayshaw, Caleb Serong and Darcy Tucker.
“Connor can come back and train the house down over pre-season and try and get one of those midfield spots or he’s well within his rights, where he, his management might and family might think that there are more opportunities elsewhere,” Bell said.
“We’ve all been around football to know that things can change really quickly whether it’s through an outstanding pre-season or whether it’s through injury and suddenly you’re getting the good looks and you’re performing on match day.”
That boded well for Mundy, whose on-field performance the club thought might be hampered in 2020 but blossomed, and Bell told RSN on Friday a new deal for the former 35-year-old captain was imminent.
Bell admitted the club got the wrong end of the deal with Hogan but insisted his trade to GWS for pick 54 was best for both parties as new coach Justin Longmuir looks to consolidate a strong culture at the club.
More than likely we’ll be going to the draft more than the trades.
“We had hoped it would have turned out a lot better … as a football club we take accountability for that and we have to move on,” he said.
“What it does allow us to do is it frees up quite a bit of TPP [total player payment] space, given that Jesse’s walked away from his contract and it potentially allows us to do some other things as well.”
One of those interests is Geelong’s Jordan Clarke, who could return to WA after limited opportunities at the Cats, but Bell said the 20-year-old from Mandurah was contracted and the club would respect the process.
“Jordan’s a wonderfully talented player who had an unbelievable first season for Geelong and then, for whatever reason, struggled to crack into that defence there this year. I know that he had a few injuries as well,” Bell said.
The list building philosophy at the Dockers has changed dramatically since Longmuir and Bell’s arrival, with the club to now bolster its playing stocks more often than not via the draft.
“More than likely we’ll be going to the draft more than the trades. You never say never and we’re looking at a few different scenarios and we’re constantly workshopping with (head of player personnel) David Walls and his team,” Bell said.
The improved forward structure would likely improve beyond 2021, despite Hogan’s departure.
“We’re really pleased with Matt Taberner’s year … and with Rory Lobb are two and three in contested marks in the competition,” Bell said.
“What we need to do better is get the ball into them more often and more to their advantage.
“The other forward that we do have on the list who I think is also a pretty good midfielder is Nat Fyfe, who also could spend a bit of time forward.
“Sam Sturt is another … he’s 188cm so he’s not your key position, but he is very quick and kicked three goals on debut before getting a syndesmosis injury early in the season.
“Brennan Cox is a really flexible player, he’s someone we can look at as well but I’m comfortable that those forwards can kick us enough winning scores next year.”
The club had a shortlist of candidates to replace controversial former high performance manager Jason Weber, whose tenure at the club coincided with a lengthy injury list in his final few years at Fremantle.
“We’ve got a short list of our short list … we’ll be looking to make an announcement soon. I’m really confident that it will be a well-received announcement and looking forward to the impact that person can have,” Bell said.
There was also the prospect of twins joining the club through its Next Generation Academy this year.
“The two that are spoken about are Joel Western (Claremont), Brandon Walker and his twin brother Chris at East Fremantle,” Bell said. “There’s also Keanu Haddow from East Fremantle.”
David writes about sports and lifestyle for WAtoday.