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Friday, October 5, 2018

AFL free agency 2018: Reece Conca primed to bring Tiger toughness to Fremantle Dockers

An immediate first instinct in assessing a club’s free agent or trade acquisition is to look at the numbers.
How old is he? How many games has he played? Where does he rank in his new club’s pecking order at his position?
There’s often plenty more to the story, and with the pick-up of Reece Conca, it’s not just the on-field qualities that should be assessed.
Fremantle have recruited a player who has a keen awareness and understanding of the inner workings of Richmond, last year’s premiers and this year’s minor premiers.
It follows the pick-ups of ex-Hawk Bradley Hill and premiership-winning Bulldog Joel Hamling in the past two years to add to the Dockers’ collection of players with flag experience.
Conca has been at the Tigers since 2010. He’s experienced the struggles and been a part of the rise to last year’s premiership, though he didn’t play in the grand final itself.
To now have a trio of players who have gone through the grind and witnessed first-hand what it takes to achieve the ultimate is invaluable for Freo. That’s three different perspectives on how it can be done, what kind of work is required, and what type of culture breeds premiership success.
With Conca, the pain of missing out on a medallion in an injury-ravaged 2017 also looms as a personal driver. The 26-year-old established himself as an automatic starter in a Richmond side many thought would secure this year’s flag before the shock preliminary final drubbing at the hands of Collingwood.
Fremantle is likely to give Conca more midfield time, especially if Lachie Neale ends up departing. To have someone who knows a trick or two about how the likes of Dustin Martin and Trent Cotchin operate at stoppages will be a significant learning tool for emerging players like Adam Cerra and Andrew Brayshaw.
The Dockers will undoubtedly be hoping Conca provides a spark on the field. But don’t sleep on the intangibles someone with the experience of a culture of success can bring to a club looking to emulate Richmond’s rise to the top.