THE 2013 WAFL season kicks off this weekend as the competition eases into a time of great change.
The AFL clubs have got their way and a host club system with Fremantle aligned to Peel and West Coast to East Perth is being introduced. This year new recruits to the AFL clubs will go to the aligned clubs while Fremantle players who were at East Perth will head to Peel and vice-versa.
In 2014 all AFL listed players will be with either Peel or East Perth. The new system is, in fact, not new. In 1999 the WAFC launched a host club arrangement where Fremantle players were aligned to South Fremantle and West Coast players with Claremont. South Fremantle, coached by Tony Micale, won 15 games straight from April to August and won the second semi final before losing the grand final to West Perth. A host club review conducted after the 1999 season concluded the arrangement was a “… significant and serious impost of the integrity of the WAFL competition.” The system was watered down slightly in 2000 and 2001 with only interstate recruits being required to play for the host club. East Perth, under Micale, became West Coast’s host club and won consecutive premierships, beating East Fremantle in the 2000 grand final and South Fremantle in 2001. The system was abandoned in 2002 and East Perth again won the premiership.
There are three new coaches in 2013 – Brian Dawson, who coached Swan Districts to the famous 2010 premiership, will coach East Perth; 2004 Port Adelaide premiership player Jarrad Schofield will take charge of his original senior club Subiaco and Cam Shepherd, a premiership player with Claremont in 1987, will coach Peel.
The most interesting outside recruits are Chance Bateman, who returns to Perth, Kyle Reimers, who has chosen to go to Perth rather than his old club Peel, Sturt star Tristan Gum has come to Subiaco, Brett Peake is back at East Fremantle, Brendan Lee returns to co-captain East Perth after a couple of games for Essendon and a fairest and best at the Bendigo Bombers, Cruize Garlett is back from North Melbourne but has chosen to go to Peel rather than Perth and Mark Seaby has joined Claremont in preference to his old team West Perth.
Prominent players to swap clubs include Jarrod Kayler-Thomson (Perth to Subiaco), Andrew McDougall (Perth to Subiaco), Aaron Elari (Perth to Swan Districts), Marlon Motlop (Swan Districts to Peel) and Jarrhan Jacky (Swan Districts to Peel).
So to the big questions. Who will slip? Who will climb? Who will win the flag? Buggered if I know.
Here are some details….
Fairest & best: Kane Mitchell
Coach: Marc Webb
Captain: Andrew Browne
Main losses: Kane Mitchell, Tom Swift, Tom Lee, Alistair Gillespie, Lewis Stevenson
Main gains: Mark Seaby
Fairest & best: Steven Dodd
Coach: Steve Malaxos
Captain: Mark McGough
Main losses: Leith Teakle, Koby Stevens, Luke Weller
Main gains: Brett Peake, Rhys Cooyou, James Saville,
Fairest & best: Shaun Hilderbrandt
Coach: Greg Harding
Captain: Tallan Ames
Main losses: Marlon Motlop, Ashley Hansen, Jarrhan Jacky, Josh Roberts
Main gains: Travis Casserly, Aaron Elari, Matt Rogers
Fairest & best: Paul Johnson
Coach: Brian Dawson
Captain: Brendan Lee & Craig Wulff
Main losses: Zac Clarke, Dylan Roberton, Hayden Crozier, Jayden Pitt
Main gains: Brendan Lee, Scott Lycett, Blayne Wilson, Jamie Cripps, Cale Morton
Fairest & best: Mark Hutchings
Coach: Bill Monaghan
Main losses: Brent LeCras, Dion Fleay, Joel Rice
Main gains: Rohan Kerr, Trent Manzone, Shaun Marusic
Fairest & best: Kris Miller
Coach: Paul Hasleby
Captain: Ryan Cook
Main losses: Toby McGrath, Ryan Murphy, Josh Head, Hayden North.
Main gains: Alistair Gillespie, Mitch Banner, Warrick Andreoli, Mitch Carter, Craig White.
Fairest & best: Aidan Parker
Coach: Jarrad Schofield
Captain: Aidan Parker
Main losses: Blake Broadhurst, Des Headland, Jack Anthony, Kane Bloxsidge, Brant Chambers
Main gains: Jarrod Kayler-Thomson, Andrew McDougall, Ryan Herring
Fairest & best: Ross Young
Coach: Damien McMahon
Captain: Paul Bevan
Main losses: Leon Davis, Ross Young, Jarrod Kayler-Thomson, Andrew McDougall, Mitch Leyendekkers
Main gains: Chance Bateman, Kyle Reimers, Jackson Sketcher, Jarod Risol, Chad Sandilands
Fairest & best: Brendon Jones
Coach: Cam Shepherd
Captain: Brendon Jones
Main losses: Mitch Leyendekkers, Scott Lycett, Blayne Wilson, Brendan Hancock
Main gains: Marlon Motlop, Jarrhan Jacky, Paul Bower, Cruize Garlett, Zac Clarke, Hayden Crozier, Jack Hannath, Jayden Pitt, Tanner Smith, Matt Taberner