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Fremantle springs a surprise with WAFL youngster

Pre-season and rookie draft analysis Draft experts Callum Twomey and Nat Edwards analyse the 2014 NAB AFL pre-season and rookie drafts
Carlton's Marc Murphy tackles Fremantle's Tanner Smith during the 2013 NAB Cup round 02 match between the Carlton Blues and the Fremantle Dockers at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne. (Photo: Andrew White/AFL Media)
Tanner Smith has been re-rookied by the Dockers
FREMANTLE produced a major surprise in the NAB AFL Rookie Draft by selecting bolter Ethan Hughes with its first pick on Wednesday.

Hughes only entered the WAFL system this season after previously playing in the South-West Football League with Harvey Brunswick Leschenault Football Club. He has only been playing football for five years.

The 19-year-old played four WAFL reserves matches with Peel Thunder at the start of 2014 before crossing to Swan Districts. He played 15 reserves matches and two senior matches with Swans, mainly in defence.

He finished fourth in Swans' reserves best and fairest after averaging 19 disposals and five marks per game.

As expected the Dockers re-drafted key position prospect Tanner Smith after delisting him.

Smith managed just seven WAFL matches this year due to several injuries after making his AFL debut in 2013 and is in the Dockers' long-term plans.

He continued training with the Dockers in the early part of pre-season despite being delisted.

The Dockers had nominated Irishman Sean Hurley as a pre-selected rookie.

Hurley has already begun training with the Fremantle squad since arriving in Australia in early November.

Hurley is a 196cm Gaelic footballer from County Kildare and has already impressed at Dockers pre-season with his running prowess.

Selection No.13 – Ethan Hughes (Swan Districts)
List manager Brad Lloyd says: "He's a 188cm half-back. He's really well balanced and really smart with the way he goes about his footy. He's sort of caught our eye throughout the year as he improved. He's got a fair bit of scope from a development point of view as he worked through getting into a professional program at Peel and Swans and now coming in at an AFL level we think there's some real scope, using his clean hands and he's got a strong running ability and he's got good evasiveness and awareness and good agility. So we think there's some really good development potential with him over the coming years."

Selection No.31 – Tanner Smith (Fremantle)
Brad Lloyd says: "He has had some injury trouble in his first two years at the club. He's still a well-regarded player for the footy club as that developing key defender. He's important for the playing list. We delisted him but always had the plans to re-draft him onto the rookie list.

Selection No.48 – Sean Hurley (Ireland)
Brad Lloyd says: "He's been outstanding with his attitude. He's a really big boy. He's 196cm and he's got a really strong aerobic running capacity. He's come in and he's really given his all. We think we can develop him as a tall key position player. He hasn't looked out of place (with the Australian football). He did some of the pre-season with us last year so he's had time to prepare and hone the skills with the AFL ball. He's fine with his kicking and his ball handling. He's going well."