Fremantle goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne says his rumoured rift with teammate Nat Fyfe was nothing but wrong speculation, while he also denied he asked for a trade away from the Dockers.
Rumours surfaced last season that a host of Dockers players were unhappy with Fyfe’s leadership style, with Ballantyne apparently part of the clan.
But Ballantyne flatly denied those claims on Wednesday.
“There’s a lot of speculation in Perth with footy players, and that’s exactly what it was. There were no issues to resolve,” Ballantyne said.
It also emerged last year that Ballantyne had sought a trade to West Coast after failing to land a multi-year contract extension at the Dockers.
But Ballantyne says he never wanted to leave the Dockers, claiming his manager was merely sussing out all available options.
“I didn’t ask for that, no,” Ballantyne said of the talk he wanted to head to arch rivals West Coast.
“(I was) open to look at all the possibilities for my football career.
“My manager does a great job, and he dealt with all the rubbish outside.
“For me, it didn’t faze me in the slightest.
“I’m happy here. Once all the dust settled, and I’m staying as a Fremantle player, I was stoked.
“It’s always been my mission to stay a Fremantle player for my whole career. I’m as happy as hell.”
Ballantyne said he had a refreshing chat with coach Ross Lyon after the trade period.
“Once the dust settled, we laid everything out,” Ballantyne said.
“I said, ‘What do you need from me for 2017?’ And he was stoked with that.
“He said get your head down, bum up, and into pre-season.”
Ballantyne was an All-Australian in 2014, but he has struggled to recapture his best form since.
The 29-year-old booted just 26 goals from 20 games last season, and just 15 goals the year before.
It was a far cry from his 2014 campaign that yielded 49 goals.
Ballantyne says Dockers players have been given the green light to play more instinctively in 2017.
The club is hopeful the new style of play will help the team rebound from their horror 2016 campaign that yielded just four wins.
Ballantyne suffered a fractured cheekbone last season, and he also broke his jaw in 2014.
But the pocket rocket says he’s not about to change his frenetic attack on the man and the ball any time soon.
“If I think about trying to protect myself in a game, opportunities are missed to lay a tackle or things like that,” Ballantyne said.
“There’s a fair bit of metal in there now, so hopefully that helps.
“Luckily enough there hasn’t been concussions or damage to my brain. It’s just been bone damage, which heals quick enough. I won’t be changing too much.”