Bulldogs announce string of re-signings for 2018

Tuesday, November 7, 2017 - 4:00 PM by Chris Pike

THE commitment and desire of the South Fremantle playing group to build and improve on two successive WAFL preliminary final appearances has been shown with six players re-signing including two past WJ Hughes Medal winners.

A big key to South Fremantle's success the past two seasons in winning 31 of 40 home and away season games and then making the preliminary final on both occasions has been the stability of the playing squad.

There was minimal turnover between the 2016 and 2017 seasons aside from the returns of Cory Dell'Olio and Jarrod Garlett, and emerging ruckman Jake Solomon who had an injury-interrupted campaign.

The result was a second-place finish at the end of the home and away season with a 16-4 record before finals losses to grand finalists Peel Thunder and Subiaco, but a big win at Fremantle Community Bank Oval against Swan Districts.

Now the key looking towards continued success in 2018 is the retention of the majority of the playing group and the first step in that is the re-signing of Marlion Pickett, Steven Edwards, Blayne Wilson, Jacob Dragovich, Shane Hockey and Ashton Hams.

Pickett has now strung together three outstanding seasons in defence for South Fremantle. He burst on to the scene originally as a half-forward and wingman, but the arrival of Todd Curley as coach has seen him find his spot down back.

He is a unique and remarkable defender who can influence and win contests from seemingly nowhere, then his run out of the back-line is the best in the WAFL. As a player with 76 games of WAFL experience behind him, he's entering the prime years of his career.

Edwards came to South Fremantle ahead of the 2016 season in a trade with Claremont. He had a good first season largely as a small forward before spending some time down back. Then in 2017, he cemented himself an elite small defender.

He was named in the wafl.com.au Team of the Year in a back pocket and his ability to play one-on-one on some of the league's best small forward along with providing great run and carry made him a standout performer. He is an exciting player to have return to the Bulldogs in 2018.

Wilson is another key member of that South Fremantle defensive unit, usually positioned at centre half-back where his intercept marking is a crucial part of the Bulldogs' set up. 

He celebrated his 100th WAFL game during 2017 and now has 121 matches to his credit and will continue his push in 2018 for that elusive premiership.

Dragovich remains an important part of South Fremantle's plans even though he had an injury-interrupted season, limiting him to nine appearances in the league team. But he played some strong football in those games and was brilliant in the reserves.

Now as a 40-game league player, he will be ready to take the next step in 2018 following a big pre-season.

In two seasons, Hockey has proven himself one of South Fremantle's finest interstate recruits. He arrived in 2016 from VFL club Frankston and went on to be so impressive and important that he won the WJ Hughes Medal as the Bulldogs' fairest and best.

He had a slightly slower start to 2017 than he would have liked, but he finished with a superb second half of the season again finishing up averaging another 24.2 disposals for the season.

Hockey has not only fitted in at South Fremantle, but also to the Perth life and he is more than keen to go around again with the Bulldogs in 2018 as he chases the first premiership of his career.

Then there is the great news that 189-game veteran and club champion Ashton Hams will continue his decorated career in 2018.

The dual premiership star, two-time Simpson Medallist and Hughes Medal winner has agreed to play on in 2018 for a season that should see him reach 200 games with the Bulldogs as he attempts to become a triple premiership player.