Covid hits footy ranks

Sharks captain Matthew Jupp and the club’s women’s captain Ashleigh Gomes.

WITH the new WAFL season just weeks away and the pre-season drawing to a close, both South and East Fremantle footy clubs are looking to make a big impact on 2022. 

South Freo’s Bulldogs will be looking to bounce back after coming up short against Subiaco in last year’s grand final, but face an unusual Covid challenge.

The pandemic delayed this year’s WAFL season, while the club’s ranks have been thinned through topping up the Eagles and Dockers own Covid-ravaged lists.

“We have five South Fremantle players allocated to AFL lists, three with the West Coast Eagles and two with the Fremantle Dockers,” Bulldogs CEO Cameron Britt said while adding they supported the Covid contingency plans which gave youngsters a bit of limelight. 

The club heads into the season,  with a fresh and exciting list, including ex-West Coast Eagle Brendon Ah Chee who makes his long-awaited return to the club after 10 years in the AFL. 

It’s a massive boost for the Dogs, who will lose star forward Matthew Parker when he returns to Richmond. 

Last Saturday provided a good preview to Dogs’ fans with a huge win over West Perth. 

The side won a thrilling game which came down to just six points in a low scoring affair. 

The club’s WAFLW team travelled just up the road to take on second placed cross-town rivals East Fremantle on Sunday, where they ultimately came up short by 38 points. 

This week will be an interesting matchup for the club with a preliminary final rematch against Claremont. 

“It’s an opportunity to test and evaluate some players, be it in the league side, or in different positions to usual custom,” Britt said.

Evaluate

“Claremont are a good football team, and they’ll be playing to win, so we just need to try and get what we require from the game, and keep the list healthy, and hopefully do enough to be ahead when the siren sounds.” 

Cross town rivals the Sharks are facing change, recently moving in to train at the WACA while their Moss Street clubrooms get a makeover. 

The WACA will be home for the next two years, while Moss Street gets new clubrooms, a café and other community facilities as part of a $25 million redevelopment by the local council. 

Women’s captain Ashleigh Gomes told the Herald playing at the WACA and having new changerooms was a milestone.

“To have the opportunity to showcase our skills at a stadium like the WACA is not only a huge step for East Fremantle but for female athletes everywhere,” Gomes said.

“It’s fantastic for us to have an environment that caters for women which definitely makes us feel more valued and important.” 

The WACA has not seen a WAFL match since 1994 when East Fremantle played West Perth in a qualifying final. 

East Fremantle have made a promising start to their 2022 campaign with a dominant 67-point win over East Perth a fortnight ago; Cody Leggett led the way with an impressive four goals.

The club’s WAFLW team is also looking dangerous, putting on an inspiring performance to beat rivals South Freo by 38 points. 

The win propelled them to an undefeated 5-0 start to the season and second on the ladder. 

This week will prove to be somewhat of a challenge for the blokes as they prepare for their Saturday clash against West Perth. 

The club has been recently affected by Covid cases, drastically restricting the number of available players on its senior list. 

“We have had a few Covid cases which restricts us to 15 to 20 players on our senior list over the last two weeks,” East Freo CEO Todd Shimmon said.

by REMI STEWART

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