Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe has ended speculation he will leave Fremantle, saying he’s committed to the club and will re-sign in 2017.
Fyfe’s AFL future has been a hot topic in recent weeks, with talk of a player rift between him and some teammates fuelling talk he might up and leave.
The 24-year-old sparked the interest of rival clubs earlier in August when he declared he would consider his free-agency options once his contract expires at the end next year.
But Fyfe confirmed his commitment to Fremantle on Monday, saying he’s given the green light to his manager Jason Dover to negotiate with the Dockers.
Fyfe expects a deal to be finalised at some point next year.
“I don’t want there to be any doubt that I see my future here at the Fremantle Dockers,” Fyfe said.
“We have a strong plan in place, with good people. Recent reports that I would consider a trade at the end of the season are completely false.”
Fyfe was surprisingly beaten by David Mundy for the captaincy role during a player vote last summer.
Mundy admitted last week that Fyfe’s strong leadership style had the potential to put teammates “off side” at times.
But the Dockers still view Fyfe as a future captain at the club, and a core part of their plans to get back into premiership mode.
“Nat, who has always shown a strong commitment to Fremantle, is an outstanding player, a quality person and a great leader,” chief executive Steve Rosich said.
Fremantle started 2016 as one of the premiership favourites, but they will end the year with one of the worst win-loss records in club history.
The Dockers have won just three of their 21 games going into Sunday’s final-round clash with the Bulldogs.
Rumours of player unrest had unsettled the club in recent weeks, while the coaching style of Ross Lyon also came under the spotlight.
Some experts suggest Lyon’s unrelenting methods eventually burn players out, but the veteran coach scoffed at that theory last week, saying some players even view him as a father figure.
The Dockers are set to make sweeping changes to their list at the end of the season.
Club legend Matthew Pavlich will retire, while Hayden Ballantyne, Chris Mayne, Ed Langdon, Zac Clarke, Nick Suban, Michael Barlow, and Garrick Ibbotson could be on the move.
Players such as Anthony Morabito, Tendai Mzungu, Matt de Boer, Clancee Pearce, and Jack Hannath are in danger of being delisted.
Fyfe has been sidelined since breaking his left leg for a second time in round five.
The 117-game midfielder first broke the leg in the Dockers’ 2015 preliminary final loss to Hawthorn.
Fyfe says he will be back running again within the next few weeks, and expects to be at full flight by round one next year.
The West Australian urged fans to pack Domain Stadium on Sunday to farewell club great Pavlich, who will be playing his 353rd and final match.