More than handy recruits, returnees for 2013

Thursday, February 21, 2013 - 10:58 AM

SOUTH Fremantle will largely bank on youth to try to get back into WAFL finals action in 2013 but some talented recruits, and return of some experienced players will help that cause as well.

South Fremantle welcomes back important players Craig White and Reece Adams for the 2013 season with Alistair Gillespie on board from Claremont and Mitch Banner, Warrick Andreoli and Mitch Carter joining the Bulldogs after time in the AFL.

Those additions will add nicely to the experience of Ryan Cook, Kris Miller, Paul Mugambwa and Andrew McCarrey, developing leaders Sean Tighe, Adam Guglielmana, Jarrad Winter, Toby Bairstow and Adam McIntosh, and an exciting group of youngsters coming through.

White returns to the Bulldogs after a year away from the WAFL where he was with the Balmain Dockers where he was also coaching and playing alongside former South Fremantle premiership player Gerard Wilkie.

White will be a huge addition in terms of leadership, experience and quality for South Fremantle in 2013.

White is a 139-game, dual premiership player with South Fremantle and coach Paul Hasleby is delighted to have him back on board after playing alongside him in 2011.

"We are trying some new things in the back-line this year and he has been at the forefront of that, and leading from the front. His direction and talk is second to none in our team, that's for sure.""He has been enormous for me. He coached last year over in Sydney so to come back with that experience is fantastic for a young coach like myself," Hasleby said.

Gillespie was limited to four league games with Claremont last year due to the strength of its squad, but he starred in some Foxtel Cup appearances and also in the reserves premiership win where he was named best afield.

Hasleby was quick to lure him to South Fremantle once the season ended and now is looking forward to having him as a long-term forward and back-up ruckman with the Bulldogs.

A forward-line consisting of Gillespie, Ben Saunders, John Sgherza, McCarrey, Jayden Woods and Winter has the Bulldogs with the potential to put some big scores on the board.

"We saw a bit of a weakness in our forward-line in terms of our height and a back-up ruckman, so we chased Gillespie," he said.

"I saw in a few games last year what he could do, and even though he does have a lot to learn, when he puts it all together he is going to be an exciting player for our team hopefully for the next seven or eight years."

Hasleby was also pleased to attract three players fresh off AFL lists to Fremantle Oval for 2013 as well.

Banner arrives from Port Adelaide where the inside midfielder played 19 games between 2009-2012 but found himself off the Power's list at the end of last year under new coach Ken Hinkley.

Carter returns to South Fremantle after two years on Carlton's list where he was unable to crack it for an AFL game with Andreoli a recruit from St Kilda where he spent the last two seasons as a rookie.

Hasleby now hopes that Banner, Carter and Andreoli all play well enough to put themselves back in contention for a spot in the top league in 2014.

"With that they bring a lot of knowledge about different game plans from playing at the elite level. All those guys have fitted in well and we will look to play them in all different parts of the ground," he said.

"We'll get one of them in the back-line, Mitch Banner will go through the midfield and Andreoli will be a forward/mid as well.

"It gives us a lot of coverage and I'm looking forward to those guys getting back into the WAFL system, and hopefully with a successful season with us they get back into the AFL."

Adams is another Bulldog to return for 2013. Two seasons ago, Hasleby played with Adams and he appeared to be taking the next step with his football as a permanent WAFL midfielder.

He played every game that season, averaged almost 21 possessions a game and was one player Hasleby was hoping to build his new midfield around.

However, he took a year off from the WAFL in 2012 and now returns with Hasleby in no doubt he can get back to his best form.

"We really missed him last year just with his hardness around the ball and his ability to run and carry the ball," Hasleby said.

"He is such a team-orientated player. We've seen in the pre-season that he is back to his best already and he is going to play a big part within our midfield this year."

By Chris Pike