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Nat Fyfe steps aside as Fremantle captain, opening door to new AFL skipper

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Nat Fyfe has officially stood aside as Fremantle captain after six years in charge.

Fyfe – who’s been leading the club in 2017 – told teammates and officials on Tuesday of his decision and how he’s excited by the next wave to take control of the club.

In 2022, the 31-year-old became the second-longest serving captain of the Dockers, surpassing Peter Bell and joining club legend Matthew Pavlich up the top.

During his reign, the champion was able to add his second Brownlow Medal in 2019, highlighting his ability to lead from the front on and off the field.

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“The decision was tough. It has been something I’ve known for the last three or four weeks,” Fyfe said.

“Last year was a challenging year for me individually, but a great year for the Club and it started to pave the way for a transition.

“Intuitively, I knew that it was an exciting opportunity for the Club for me to step aside and let someone else come through.

“It took a while for the emotions and my mind to line up with my intuition, it feels like I was letting go of a dream in some ways, but once I connected with that feeling, it opens up the possibility for so much more.

“I’m optimistic about what this transition can do for the Club.”

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Fyfe’s selfless decision to stand aside and allow the next generation to come through and take control of the future of the Dockers is a testament to him as a leader.

It has been no secret that the past few years has waned on the two-time Brownlow Medalist, battling with constant injury and unable to contribute on the park.

However, Fyfe’s choice to “step away” from the leadership group will help him to focus on his own game.

“By stepping away completely from the leadership group that allows me to focus all my energy on helping our other forwards and learning my craft again,” Fyfe said.

“It also allows someone else to step into the leadership group potentially and give us that fresh push of leadership which will propel us forward.”

There is no exact date when the club will announce its new skipper but it’s believed it will be later in February.

Who will replace Nat Fyfe as Fremantle captain? 

Fyfe has long been rumoured to be giving up his role as Fremantle captain.

Youngsters Andrew Brayshaw (23 years old) and Caleb Serong (21) pose as long-term options and play above their age bracket in terms of leadership whereas Alex Pearce and Luke Ryan have been solid contributors for quite some time.

Pearce served as a stand-in captain for when Fyfe was absent in 2022 and the 27-year-old relished every minute of it, while Ryan is visibly vocal on field.

Andrew Brayshaw

Some would say a smoky. Some would say a lock.

Brayshaw’s case for Fremantle captaincy is interesting. If he was 25 or 26, you’d think the club would hand him the keys to the car.

However, only 23-years-old, the midfielder is starting to emerge into the player he was hoped to be at pick two in the 2017 Draft.

Brayshaw has added some individual accolades recently, donning his first All-Australian blazer in 2022 as well as the Doig Medal and the Leigh Matthews Trophy (MVP).

The Sandringham Dragons product plays well beyond his years and always does the team-things first.

Brayshaw’s characteristic run-down tackle and consistent performances highlight his leadership by actions.

The question is, whether his off-field behaviours are in line with the next Dockers skipper, or the one after.

Alex Pearce

As noted, Pearce has had some experience with the title itself and is no stranger to leading the club.

Riddled with injuries, the fact that the defender has struggled to keep on the park consistently could threaten his candidacy.

Statistics and past captains also indicate that key talls don’t generally get the nod when deciding captains.

However, Pearce’s impact in 2022 has skyrocketed him into the equation, taking the mantle as number one defender and controlling the backline.

At age 27, Pearce is in the prime of his career and presents as a very worthy successor of Fyfe.

Luke Ryan

Ryan has barely missed a beat since being selected as a mature-age recruit at the end of 2016.

Coming in as a 21-year-old, the former Coburg VFL player was ready-made and impacted immediately.

The ever-reliable defender is rarely absent from matches and has taken command of a young back six.

Ryan was an All-Australian in 2020 and was awarded with the Doig Medal that same season, proving his significance on the field as much as off it.

Alike Pearce, history would suggest that defenders don’t normally become skipper, with only four of the 18 clubs including back-men as leaders of their club.

Caleb Serong

Serong is a future leader of the Fremantle football club. 

At age 21, it seems the time wouldn’t be now given the other candidates for the captaincy.

Serong, along with Brayshaw, will drive this club forward for the next decade and will work in tandem to pursue the ultimate success.

However, it is unlikely that the 2020 Rising Star will be appointed Fyfe’s replacement.


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