Fremantle duo Danyle Pearce and Michael Johnson have both announced their retirement at seasons end.
Pearce will play for Peel on Saturday as the midfielder hopes to help them reach the WAFL finals series while allowing youngsters gain the experience at AFL level where as Johnson (a club legend) will play against the Pies at Optus Stadium in his last game.
Pearce has tried to be a mentor throughout the last three years at the club and has worked hard on developing Fremantle’s young emerging players.
“You’d think it this would make it harder but it’s actually made it easier,” Pearce told the club’s website.
“We’ve got a lot of great boys who have come in and I wish them nothing but the best for their future.
“To get around the young boys like Darcy Tucker, Ed Langdon and this year’s draftees like Stef Giro, Mitch Crowden and Tom North, that’s made it an exciting change.
“Hopefully, in another 10 years time they’ll still be playing and going well and I’ll know I was there at the start to direct them in the right way.
“That would be nice to look back on.”
Johnson believes their is something special coming for the club as there are similar signs to when he played in finals series for Fremantle.
“It was because we trusted each other and on game day, we just knew what we needed to do,” Johnson also told the club’s website.
“One guy would go forward and push up and the next one will come in. If I was in a one-on-one battle, I knew Luke McPharlin would come over for support.
“Those years were really enjoyable, especially making the finals and playing against some quality sides. We knew what we needed to do as a group and we knew a lot of teams feared us back then.
“It is tough to actually retire and give it up but I think the new crop of backmen now, with Alex Pearce and Joel Hamling leading the way, I think they’ve got something special.
“They’re a really young group and, hopefully, they’ve learnt something from us who have represented before them.”
Both veterans thanked Ross Lyon and their families.
“I also can’t thank Ross Lyon enough for the opportunity to come over to WA,” Pearce said.
“I feel very blessed to be a part of a strong period of Fremantle’s history and to play in the first ever Grand Final. It’s been an amazing ride.
“Without a doubt, she deserves all the credit. She’s always there. We’ve been through so many great times and some challenging times.
“She’s always that strong presence in my life.”
“Having my beautiful wife Dayna and my three children Ameliah, Levi and Nevaya have helped me keep a balance,” Johnson said.
“Since (senior coach) Ross (Lyon) has come on board, he’s been really strong in helping me develop as a player and I think he’s done that and I’ve played my best footy under him.
“My Mum’s been a strong support, my stepdad and my old man Peter – before he passed away he was at every football game I ever played as a junior and then every home game for Fremantle.
“He was always there and those guys have taught me important things about life and how to treat people.”