Justin Longmuir addresses Fremantle's players during their win over Western Bulldogs in round 21, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

FREMANTLE coach Justin Longmuir concedes he could have sold the bigger picture better to some of the players who departed last year in an effort to keep them in 2023 and maintain the Dockers' depth. 

Making promises he couldn't deliver on was something the coach wanted to avoid, however, as five players – including Rory Lobb, Blake Acres and Griffin Logue – joined new clubs during the Continental Tyres AFL Trade Period. 

Lobb was a unique case among the departing Dockers, with Longmuir believing the forward/ruck had no intention of ever staying beyond his existing contract to the end of 2023. 


Logue and back-up ruckman Lloyd Meek were two players, however, that the coach believed he could have sold a bigger long-term picture to without overstepping the mark. 

"Part of my role and maybe a part I didn't do as well as I could have last year, is to sell opportunity to some of those guys and give them a clear explanation of where they fit in our organisation and my vision for them going forward," Longmuir told AFL.com.au

Justin Longmuir, with Alex Pearce (L) and Nat Fyfe, at Fremantle's official team photo day on January 24, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

"That's sometimes tricky to do as a senior coach, because … you don't want to make promises you can't keep. 

"I'm always trying to tread that line, but maybe I could have trod that line a little bit better. 

"There's always reflections, and we'd be negligent as a football club if we didn't reflect on all the different things that happened to us throughout the year."

LIST ANALYSIS Which club has the most goalkicking firepower?

The danger of selling false hope to players like Logue and Meek, who could not consistently break into the AFL team in their preferred positions, was losing trust within the playing group, Longmuir said. 

Lobb was a different case, however, after he was held to his contract at the end of 2021 and went on to produce a career-best season at Fremantle.  

The 30-year-old booted a team-high 36 goals but remained intent on leaving the Dockers, requesting a trade to the Western Bulldogs with one year to run on his existing deal.


"Rory is an interesting one. I don't think Rory was ever going to stay post this year," Longmuir said. 

"We held Rory to a contract last year and he never firmly committed to us as a club, so I don't think that (selling a bigger picture) really applies to him. 

"Griff last year probably wanted to be a backman, and we played him forward a lot and he missed out on the team early in the year. 

"Maybe he's one I could have sold a bit more of a bigger picture to, and Meeky was probably the other one.

"Meeky probably saw us getting Luke Jackson, saw he was behind Sean Darcy and probably didn't really see an opportunity for him at the footy club. 

"Maybe I could have sold that to him a bit better and had those conversations a bit more regularly with him."

Lloyd Meek celebrates a goal during Fremantle's clash with Brisbane in round 12, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

As the Trade Period unfolded, Fremantle needed to find more draft capital to bring in premiership ruckman Jackson from Melbourne, with departing players helping them do that. 

Former Hawthorn and Gold Coast midfielder Jaeger O'Meara and ex-Suns forward Josh Corbett also joined the club, with Meek forming part of the deal that secured O'Meara. 

The addition of O'Meara looks particularly beneficial after a terrific patch of training form as one of the Dockers' main centre square players. 

Jaeger O'Meara handballs during Fremantle's match simulation against Adelaide at Victor George Kailis Oval on February 24, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

It is the forward line, however, that has occupied Longmuir's mind more than any other part of the ground as the Dockers' settle on their best structure. 

So far, former captain Nathan Fyfe has been a regular as the deepest forward, with hard-working key forward Matt Taberner higher up the ground and Jackson playing roughly three quarters of his game time in attack but also drifting into defence. 

The question now is whether one of Jye Amiss or Josh Treacy also plays as a tall forward against St Kilda in round one or an extra running player is selected. 

GETTABLE Your weekly trade and draft fix, starting in 2023

"Thinking about what out ideal structure is, our ideal balance, how are we going to score more consistently but lock the ball inside 50? I think that's probably the area of the ground where we probably aren't as set," Longmuir said. 

"That's occupied my thinking a little bit more than the other lines. But I know [assistant coaches] 'JG' (Jaymie Graham) and Adam Read are doing a great job developing our forwards and I think there's depth in our forward line that's going to make it difficult for selection in round one."