Pre-season setback for first AFL canine recruit


Photo: Not quite ready for action. Frankie watches on during Fremantle’s AFL Community Camp in Cervantes. Photo by Les Everett.

BACK-TO-BACK mishaps will mean Freo fans will miss seeing mystery recruit Frankie during the NAB Cup opener this weekend.

Frankie was the only dog taken in the controversial Canine Draft introduced by AFL CEO Andrew Dimitridog late last year. She was a star on the track for the Dockers before being slowed by a minor shoulder problem two weeks ago. Days after recovering from that issue she was under general anaesthetic at the Melville Vet for urgent dental work. She has not returned to full training.

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon this week spoke for the first time about the new recruit and introduced her to the media.

“Look, first of all Frankie’s fine. It’s not ideal but she’s just taking it easy. These are not big issues but naturally they take a bit out of you. I expect she’ll be back on track next week, raring to go. I know she’s keen to play in Mandurah.”

Lyon said he didn’t feel the need to defend the club’s decision to add a dog to the playing list. He noted that Frankie fitted a need and recruiting her was a strategic move.

“You know, it’s the way the game’s evolving isn’t it? In the old days in the backyard there was usually a dog running around and often it was the best player out there,” Lyon said. “Frankie ticks a lot of boxes. She’s quick. She’s cute. She’s got an incredible leap and excellent mouth-eye coordination. Being female and a dog she brings something different to the group.”

Frankie acknowledged joining the Dockers was a dream come true. “I grew up in Freo, one day Peter Bell patted me on South Terrace,” she said, “I liked him, especially his height.”

Small by AFL standards, Frankie has impressed seasoned observers with her work ethic and willingness to learn.

“The pre-season has been tough and there’s been a lot of emphasis on bulking up for me. That means lots of food so I’m happy about that,” Frankie said, “I got up to 5.5kg but that went down to 5.4 when I got crook.”

Asked to explain what kind of player she was the soon-to-be 11-year-old showed she has no shortage of confidence. “Let’s just say I’m a bit yappy like Hayden Ballantyne, speedy like Hilly, I can jump like Luke McPharlin and bump like Crowls.”





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