Fremantle have fought off strong interest in Sean Darcy from rival AFL clubs, signing the ruck star to a six-year contract extension.
Victorian product Darcy had been in the sights of clubs in his home state, most notably Geelong, and would have been a free agent at the end of next year.
But the 25-year-old has committed his long-term future to the Dockers with a deal that ties him to the WA outfit until the end of 2030.
Fremantle missed the finals last season – a poor result considering their semi-final appearance a year earlier – but Darcy is excited by the club’s future.
“We just need to get stuck into it and I can’t wait for the season to start,” he said.
“I’ve got full belief in our team, our list and what we’re building and everything going forward.
“We had a bit of a disappointing year last season and we’re not shying away from it.
“Everyone is on board that we need to be better, we need to improve and we need to improve quickly.
“We’re trying to get the best out of each other and we’re working hard every day to push each other, so it’s really exciting.”
Darcy’s 2023 campaign ended at round 18 when he sustained an ankle injury, which required surgery.
The Dockers’ 2021 best-and-fairest winner is hopeful of returning to full training in January.
“It’s going really well at the moment, I’ve had a good last couple of weeks,” Darcy said.
“I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’ve got a really important next four weeks that’s going to set me up.”
Darcy’s contract extension matches that of defender Brennan Cox, while Luke Jackson and Jye Amiss are signed until 2029.
“It’s pretty exciting that me and Coxy got drafted together as 18-year-olds,” Darcy said.
“To have him and me sign for that long just shows how much the club has done for us both personally and how much we want to invest back into the football club.”
Meanwhile, Ross Lyon expects Tim Membrey to “really deliver” in his AFL comeback as St Kilda seek to get the most out of the veteran’s partnership with fellow key forward Max King.
Membrey has returned to pre-season training after he was a shock late withdrawal before the Saints’ elimination final defeat to GWS in September with a personal health issue.
Coach Lyon described it at the time as a “delicate” situation but has since been buoyed by Membrey’s recovery.
The 29-year-old managed just seven games last season as he and King battled injuries, their absences leaving a huge workload on the young shoulders Mitch Owens and Anthony Caminiti.
But Lyon is hopeful of a productive 2024 campaign from his rejuvenated forward mix, with King on the mend after his latest shoulder surgery and Membrey back on track.
“He’s in really good shape, he’s blossoming, he feels good and he’s got a lot of support,” Lyon said of Membrey on Wednesday.
“I think that’s the beauty and there’s no stigma. It’s more complicated than it just seems, so we’re thrilled with where he’s at.
“Our two power forwards basically didn’t play (last season) so I think Caminiti and Owens will look forward to playing with them.”
A 160-game veteran entering his 11th AFL season, Membrey did not train with teammates at RSEA Park on Wednesday.
“As you get older you get (a bit of) wear and tear, so he’s managed today but he basically hasn’t missed a session,” Lyon said.
“He’s four kilos lighter and back to his sort of fighting weight, so to speak, with what he’s been in previous years.
“We’re really expecting that he can really deliver and he’s been a real leader here for a long time.”
King, who played 11 games last season, underwent three rounds of shoulder surgery in less than 12 months.
He was on light duties in the Saints’ rehab group on Wednesday but is expected back in full training in January.
“The surgeon was pretty conservative and he didn’t run for seven weeks (post-surgery) but he’s really up and moving now,” Lyon said.
“He’s certainly had no hiccups and if you think first session last year he dislocated the shoulder and went in for the (operation).
“He’s miles ahead and he’ll be in full training post-Christmas.”
Lyon has seen growing leadership qualities in the 23-year-old, who walked through the doors at Moorabbin five years ago as the anointed long-term successor to record-breaking former captain Nick Riewoldt.
“He’s really stepping up in meetings and he doesn’t say a lot, Max, but when he talks it sort of carries a bit of weight,” Lyon said.
“It’s great to see his leadership growing as well.”
Saints captain Jack Steele (ankle), Brad Crouch (knee) and Dan Butler (ankle) were also on light duties on Wednesday after post-season surgery but are expected back in full training by January.
Mason Wood (calf), Jack Higgins (back) and Caminiti (hamstring) are also managing niggles.
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