A new fitness direction must herald better days for Fremantle players
“There is never an ideal time in these situations but given the team’s relocation to Cairns next week, once the decision had been reached regarding Jason, Michael and Anthony, we wanted to provide them with the clarity they are entitled to and deserve,” chief executive Simon Garlick said.
“It was therefore mutually agreed that they would not be required to fulfil their duties for the remainder of the 2020 season.”
Weber was the face of the club’s fitness collective and although his early emphasis on strength and conditioning backfired down the track as soft-tissue injuries spread to plague Lyon’s later years, his departure is the cost of being leader. The club’s vast sports science, data analyst and fitness staff warrant a microscope.
An Edith Cowan University sport science graduate, Weber worked with the Wallabies before joining Fremantle in late September 2008 after a season that saw just six wins under Mark Harvey, with eight games lost by 10 points or fewer after horrendous final-quarter fade-outs.
That year, Weber and another sports scientist Darren Burgess – now Melbourne’s high performance manager – were hired by Fremantle to undertake a review of the club’s strength and conditioning operations.
At the same time, the Australian Institute of Sport’s Craig Purdam and Peter Stanton, a former medico at Brisbane who now practices in Geelong (and last year helped get Harley Bennell back on the park) did an independent probe of the club’s medical operations.
Weber’s independent review impressed Fremantle’s sports science committee – coach Mark Harvey, football manager Chris Bond, board member Ben Allan and former chief executive Steve Rosich – who shortlisted him to head up the club’s new sports science department.
Rosich said Weber was the club’s “first choice” to fill the newly created position which would see him oversee the club’s medical operations as well as having overall responsibility for strength and conditioning operations.
At the time, Weber said he was not fazed by the change of codes from rugby to AFL, despite his role overseeing all elements of physical performance at Fremantle. “The principles that you apply in strength and conditioning work across the board,” he said.
But, at one stage in 2020, Longmuir had at least 12 of his best team sidelined with recovery setbacks or injury, most soft-tissue related.
While they have been ruthless, football manager Peter Bell and first-year senior coach Longmuir must now ensure the football department review mooted this weekend examines how best to smoothen and rejig its ‘high performance’ department more than anything.
A new fitness direction must herald better days for the players; constant smatterings of injuries that crippled seasons under Lyon can’t threaten the consistent rhythm and creativity rookie Longmuir can conjure.
Supporters who thought the line in the sand was drawn at Lyon and Rosich now have a bright roadmap to the new journey.
David writes about sports and lifestyle for WAtoday.