FREMANTLE recruit Jeremy Sharp has declared he is better than the VFL player he was left to become in 2023, with the former Gold Coast wingman moving west with fire in his belly after a year spent watching AFL games from the sidelines.
Sharp did not play for the Suns' senior team last season after his request to join the Dockers at the end of 2022 was denied, playing 19 VFL games, averaging 21.3 disposals, and winning an historic first premiership for the club.
Having returned home now via the pre-season supplemental selection period (SSP), the East Fremantle product said the experience had left him driven to get the most out of his career at his second club, where he has made a strong early impression.
"I suppose it made me even more hungry to succeed this year in the AFL. I didn't get an opportunity last year, but throughout the year that dug and hurt a bit," Sharp said on Monday.
"There's a fair bit of fire in the belly now to get that opportunity again and make it my own.
"Last year I had those aspirations of coming back home, and that didn't go forward. But now for me to be here, it's a dream come true and I'm pretty keen to put my head down and get after it."
Asked if he was better than the player Gold Coast repeatedly overlooked in 2023, Sharp said: "Yeah, I'd hope so, and if I put in the hard work now I should see the rewards later on."
The results of that hard work have been clear to see from Sharp's first day at the club, when he set the standard in three 1km time trials and stayed with Olympian Peter Bol, who joined the players for the running session.
"Being able to run with him was a pretty cool moment. He reached out to me later that afternoon and said well done, which was cool to get the affirmation from him," Sharp said.
"It was a fun first day. Lots happening, lots of people to meet, and it's good to have that all finished now.
"Once I got home, I thought it was really important for me to come in and make the best impression, train really hard during the off-season, and get to work once I got here."
Sharp, who enjoyed reuniting with ex-Suns Josh Corbett and Will Brodie as well as former East Fremantle teammate Luke Jackson, said living away from home had been tricky and he was thrilled to have the opportunity now to play in front of family and friends.
He has his eyes set on a wing role at Fremantle, with the departures of Liam Henry and Blake Acres in the past two seasons unsettling the Dockers in the position and leaving a clear vacancy.
Competition will come from experienced wingman James Aish, attacking outside midfielder Nathan O'Driscoll, and potentially defender Heath Chapman, who has been flagged internally as a wing option, but Sharp has made the early running.
"There's still a lot of hard work to be done, but there's a spot there," Sharp said.
"I think it's important now to get to work and build those relationships around the club and get some trust from my teammates and coaches and hopefully I can get that role down pat."