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Why selfless Sandi offered to retire mid-season

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FREMANTLE champion Aaron Sandilands selflessly offered to retire ahead of the return of the AFL's Mid-Season Rookie Draft, but will instead play out the year.

The 211cm ruckman's proposal would have enabled the Dockers to open up a list spot to bring in a standout player outside the AFL.

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However, AFL.com.au understands football boss Peter Bell reiterated after a number of key discussions that Sandilands was in the club's plans for the duration of 2019. 

The 36-year-old is still out with his latest calf injury, which has restricted him since January, but Fremantle is confident he can overcome the setback and make an impact.

The Dockers are flush with ruck depth, including Rory Lobb, Sean Darcy, Scott Jones and Lloyd Meek, who played for Peel Thunder's WAFL reserves side at the weekend.

Darcy is considered Fremantle's long-term No.1 ruckman and recently re-signed until 2022, but has been kept out of the senior team following the arrival of ex-Giant Lobb.

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The Dockers have bucked pre-season predictions to win four of their first six matches and are eyeing a finals berth, where Sandilands' extensive experience would come in handy.

Fremantle is still exploring the pool of talent available in the mid-season draft, which will be held after round 10, despite the decision about the veteran big man.

 

Like Sandilands, Hayden Ballantyne (hamstring) and Shane Kersten (foot) remain without a timeline to return, while it is believed Harley Bennell (calf) is hopeful of returning as early as the next fortnight.

Clubs can apply to the AFL to place players on the long-term injury list, which would also create a vacant spot.

Those placed on the long-term injury list can still return for senior selection if they recover, although their team must replace them with another long-term injured player.