Fremantle coach Ross Lyon has opened up about rumours of player unrest, saying he’ll weed out a “loud minority” who are reportedly rocking the AFL club.
The Dockers have endured a horrible year on the field, and it appears the poor results have started to fan discontent within the club.
Speculation is rife that goalsneak Hayden Ballantyne wants to be traded out, and several other players could follow him out the door.
Assistant coach Peter Sumich left the club abruptly last Monday, while president Steve Harris has announced he’ll step down at the end of the season, to be replaced by vice-president Dale Alcock.
Lyon said Harris’ retirement after seven years as president had been planned for some time, and Sumich was unlikely to have been at the club anyway in 2017.
Fremantle will undergo their biggest list upheaval under Lyon’s tenure at the end of the season.
Fan favourites such as Anthony Morabito, Michael Barlow and Ballantyne could be among the players to leave.
Star midfielder Nat Fyfe, who’s contracted for next year, says he’ll explore his free-agency options before deciding whether to recommit to the club.
Lyon says the club’s struggles have given him an opportunity to see who wants to buy in, and who wants to leave.
“I see it as a real opportunity to see those that dig in,” Lyon said after Sunday’s 72-point loss to Adelaide.
“There’s always a loud minority, and there’s always people prepared to listen to a loud minority.
“But for me, I just want to continue to be the coach that Matthew Pavlich wanted his whole career. I’m pretty comfortable with that.”
When asked whether he felt there’s been a loud minority of players who have unsettled things, Lyon replied: “I’m not sure. It’s clearly some loud minorities around the traps.
“I don’t think it’s a majority.”
Lyon believes his decision to hand more games to younger players this season might have created a difficult environment for some of the club’s war horses, who have been forced to make way.
And the 50-year-old denied he had a recent blow-up with Ballantyne.
But the future of the goalsneak remains unclear, with Ballantyne expected to explore his trade options despite having one more year to run on his contract.
On Friday, Lyon claimed he had no knowledge of him wanting to leave the club.
But he said Ballantyne’s manager contacted the club later that day about the prospect of a trade.
Lyon said he met Ballantyne earlier this year about the situation.
“In actual fact, there was a period (where) we asked him in and we said, ‘Do you want to be traded?’
“And he said, ‘No, I never thought about being traded. I love Fremantle. But clearly (I) understand we’re looking to rebuild and I’m 29, I’ve got a family to look after, and I’m looking for a three-year deal’.
“I said, ‘Well, I can’t help you with that. That’s between the list manager and yourself and your manager’.”