Why Fremantle Dockers speedster Brett Bewley is ‘all for’ lifting AFL draft age

Headshot of Jordan McArdle
Jordan McArdleThe West Australian
VideoWATCH: Docker Brett Bewley nails his first ever goal in purple colours.

Late-blooming Fremantle speedster Brett Bewley has weighed on in the draft age debate, saying he would be “all for” raising it a year.

The recently-turned 25-year-old, in his second season on the Dockers’ list, admits he would have been “nowhere near ready” for life as an AFL footballer during his late teens.

Bewley was 23 and qualified carpenter by the time he got drafted out of the VFL and 24 when he made his AFL debut last season, in the thrilling win over Brisbane at Optus Stadium in round 10.

Pick 59 in the 2018 national draft, the left-footer had a five-year apprenticeship at Williamstown, including the first two predominantly in the now defunct development league reserves competition.

The dashing wingman has featured eight times at AFL level, breaking back into the senior side for Fremantle’s narrow opening-round loss to Essendon after a strong pre-season.

He was backed by many, including dual Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe and coach Justin Longmuir, to have a huge season before the coronavirus-enforced shutdown.

“When I was 18, I would’ve loved nothing more than to be on an AFL list because it’s been my dream since I was a young kid,” Bewley told SportFM 91.3.

Bewley had a winning debut against the Lions last season.
Camera IconBewley had a winning debut against the Lions last season. Credit: Daniel Carson/AFL Photos

“But I definitely look back now and if I got my chance then, I might have only lasted a year or two because I don’t was anywhere near prepared for the amount of work that needed to be done.

“Coming through the VFL, I was able to learn and I spent my first two years playing VFL reserves, so I would’ve been nowhere near ready to come in and play.

“My opinion would be that I’m all for raising the draft age, I’ve come into the system with a carpentry qualification so I don’t really need that extra focus of what I’m going to do when I finish my career so I can focus solely on footy at the moment.”

Bewley played the entire Bombers match with a fractured finger, sustained during the Marsh Series, wearing a special protective glove on his left hand.

His used the COVID-19 break to have surgery, which would’ve had to wait until post-season otherwise.

Williamstown coach Andy Collins recalled Bewley’s journey from VFL reserves to the AFL in an interview with The West Australian last year.

Fellow Seagulls product Lachie Schultz, now 22, also landed at Fremantle as a mature-ager in the same draft, two picks before his close mate.

“He’s incredibly driven, incredibly disciplined and has learnt to have great expectations of himself without putting pressure on himself,” Collins said.

VideoThe Fremantle Dockers have taken Sam Sturt, Luke Valente, Lachlan Schultz and Brett Bewley with their top four picks in the draft. Source: Docker TV

“I think in his first year he might’ve played four or five games, then around eight or nine in his second year.

“He had a breakout season in his third year and there was some interest in him because of his elite skills and his endurance.

“He just got stronger from there, wise clubs would’ve taken him at the end of 2017, but an even wiser one took him at the end of 2018.”

Bewley opted to stay in WA during the AFL’s COVID-19 season delay, rather than head home to Victoria, due to the “unpredictability” of the situation.

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