Dockers tall man Aaron Sandilands to play on at Freo next year

Fremantle ruck veteran Aaron Sandilands will play on next year after accepting a combined playing and coaching agreement to extend his accomplished AFL career into a 17th season.

The Dockers champion will help develop younger ruckmen.

Photo: supplied

The dual Dockers club champion and four-time All-Australian will assist with further development of emerging 20-year-old Dockers lead ruck hopeful Sean Darcy as well as back-up big men Lloyd Meek, Luke Strnadika and Scott Jones.

Sandilands has considered whether to accept a new one-year contract leading into the closing stages of the 2018 home-and-away schedule as he nurses a niggling calf injury and missed the last seven games.

The 211cm ruck specialist has been restricted to just 11 games this season with hamstring and calf strains after making 10 appearances last year and just five in 2016.

He is unlikely to play return against Geelong in Geelong on Saturday.


Sandilands could also miss a potentially emotion-charged last engagement of the season against Collingwood at home on Saturday week when another Dockers great Michael Johnson will play his final game.

Sandilands will play on next season at 36 and extend his 265 Dockers games in what is understood to be an agreed reduced playing schedule in his nurturing, coaching an mentoring duties as ruck coach.

Sandilands is joined by fellow Dockers veteran and close mate Hayden Ballantyne, who has also been handed a one-year extension.

Hayden Ballantyne is also staying on for another year.

Photo: supplied

The 2014 All-Australian forward-pocket has managed 15 outings this season with 17 goals from an average of 11 disposals a game after just 10 appearances last year.

Ballantyne tried to be traded to arch rivals West Coast at the end of 2016 and has regained full trust and support from senior coach Ross Lyon and will assist senior leadership with a young Dockers outfit next season.

Ballantyne, 31, has been retained as Fremantle continue to develop small forward specialists Adam Cerra, Stefan Giro, Mitch Crowden and Bailey Banfield who were all drafted onto the Dockers list last November.

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