Fremantle’s recently retired ruckman Aaron Sandilands has returned to the club to fill a part-time coaching role in the men’s and women’s sides.
Sandilands was reportedly linked during the off-season to a playing comeback with Essendon, but has opted to remain with the club he spent 17 years playing for.
The 36-year-old’s experience and expertise will be invaluable for Freo’s new number one ruckman, Sean Darcy, as well as back-up ruckman Rory Lobb and uncapped youngster Lloyd Meek.
Sandilands says he’s looking forward to passing on his teachings to Fremantle’s next generation of big men.
“I’ve been in the system for a fair amount of time now, so I feel like I’ve got a bit of knowledge that I can pass on,” Sandilands told the club website.
“I already know that Sean absorbs as much as he can and it’s going to be a big learning role for me as well.
“I’ve built the relationships with the players as a player – no doubt that won’t change with me changing roles.
“I’m just really excited to be back around the footy club and around the talent that we’ve got in the ruck divisions – that makes my job pretty easy.”
The club’s football chief Peter Bell was equally as thrilled to welcome Sandilands back to the club.
“Aaron’s record as a ruckman speaks for itself. On top of his outstanding work on the field, no one at Fremantle has won more best clubman awards, so it’s fantastic to have someone of his character back at Fremantle,” Bell said.
“I know that Sean and Lloyd have benefited greatly from Aaron’s guidance as a teammate and that will now continue with Aaron as their ruck coach.
“We also have two new exciting ruck prospects in our AFLW system in Mim Strom and Aine Tighe, and I couldn’t think of anyone better suited to guide them through their first AFLW season.”
Sandilands joins Fremantle’s coaching staff alongside another retired player, with West Coast’s Mark LeCras taking on a part-time forwards coaching role.
LeCras retired from football following the Eagles’ 2018 Grand Final win after a career spanning 219 games and 441 goals and will link up with his former forwards coach turned Fremantle head coach, Justin Longmuir.