The upheaval at Fremantle continued today with the sackings of strength and conditioning boss Jason Weber and assistant coaches Michael Prior and Anthony Rock.
They have all left the club immediately and will miss the final five games of the season. The unusual timing of the bloodletting, which follows the departures of players Cam McCarthy and Jason Carter last week, has been prompted by the Dockers’ upcoming Queensland hub trip.
Weber had been under increasing pressure from inside the club as well as a frustrated fan base, with Fremantle’s long injury list a cause for concern for several seasons.
Key defenders Alex Pearce and Joel Hamling will miss the whole season with complicated ankle injuries, while the list of soft tissue victims has included Nat Fyfe, Michael Walters, Jesse Hogan, Stephen Hill, Reece Conca, Blake Acres and Darcy Tucker.
Weber, who has a rugby background and was a former strength and conditioning coach with the Wallabies, had been in his role for 12 years and held considerable influence.
His replacement has not been appointed and existing medical and sports science staff will look after the players for the rest of the season.
Prior and Rock were both coming out of contract and their departures will give coach Justin Longmuir greater licence to shape his coaching team ahead of next season.
Prior, who had also been at the club for 12 years, was removed as backline coach just hours after the Dockers conceded the lowest score in their history when they held Sydney to 2.7 (19) in Saturday night’s win at Optus Stadium.
Fremantle’s average of 52.9 points conceded per match is the second best in the competition this season, though they have played in a succession of wet, low-scoring games.
Rock was brought in by former coach Ross Lyon in 2016. The trio, who were keen for answers on their futures before being required to again leave their families, were called into to the club’s Cockburn base yesterday morning to be told of their fate.
Fremantle chief executive Simon Garlick conceded the timing wasn’t ideal but said the sacked staff deserved an answer.
“We are taking this course of action now out of respect for people who are long-term servants of the club and who had sought clarity about their futures at Fremantle,” Garlick said.
“There is never an ideal time in these situations but given the team’s relocation to Cairns next week, once the decision had been reached regarding Jason, Michael and Anthony, we wanted to provide them with the clarity they are entitled to and deserve.”
Garlick said it was “mutually agreed” that the trio could leave immediately.
Longmuir will fold coaching the backline into his own responsibilities for the rest of the season, while Rock’s job as stoppages and structures coach will be shared around.
The Dockers will host Greater Western Sydney in their final home game on Saturday, before flying to Queensland for their remaining four fixtures.