McPhee shock departure rocks Fremantle
Adam McPhee. Pic: Getty Images

Fremantle's resurgent veteran defender Adam McPhee is set to turn his back on football and retire immediately.

The West Australian understands McPhee has sold his Cottesloe home and is in the process of moving his family back to Melbourne.

He will talk to coach Ross Lyon when he returns from overseas on Monday, but it is unlikely the 30-year-old will change his mind.

A source close to McPhee stressed the decision had been made purely for family reasons.

McPhee had hinted mid-2012 that he was considering retirement.

Asked about his future he said that his decision to move to Perth for the 2010 season on a three-year contract had been made for his own reasons to extend his career.

He claimed the next big decision in his life - whether he continued playing or not - would be made for family reasons.

But by the end of the year, his own strong form and Fremantle's barnstorming finish to the season swayed him into signing a one-year extension.

That fresh agreement meant that the club had to include him in its list lodged with the AFL yesterday.

Negotiations to annul the contract and clear McPhee to leave the club, freeing up about $300,000 in salary cap space, are likely to start in the coming days.

Fremantle chief executive Steve Rosich said yesterday he was not ready to concede that the Dockers had lost McPhee.

"He is a contracted player and is scheduled to be back at training in the coming weeks," Rosich said.

Other sources, however, said McPhee's mind was made up.

The Dockers de-listed Dylan Roberton, Nick Lower and Jesse Crichton yesterday in preparation for Thursday's national draft.

Lower and Crichton will continue to train with the club.

Fremantle currently have picks 17, 37 and 40 in the draft.

McPhee played 223 games, including 81 at Fremantle in two stints.

He began his career at the club in 2000 and 2001 before being traded to Essendon where he played 142 games for the Bombers and won All-Australian selection.

He rejoined the Dockers via the pre-season draft in 2010.

After a mediocre first season back, and an injury-interrupted 2011, he rediscovered his best form in 2012 as a third tall defender.

He played 21 of Fremantle's 24 games for the year.

McPhee's decision is a significant blow to Fremantle, who are expected to improve again in 2013 following their breakthrough finals victory over Geelong and brave semifinal loss to Adelaide at AAMI Stadium.

Star midfielder Nat Fyfe was bullish that both he and the club were in excellent shape ahead of next season. A combination of shoulder, groin and ankle injures restricted him to 11 games in 2012.

Fyfe, having completed a post-season break for the first time without surgery, said he couldn't wait for next year to start.

"I had a fairly solid program to continue with just to continue strengthening my groin and shoulder throughout the break but no surgery, which is good," Fyfe said.

Fyfe said the Dockers' dynamic midfield group could only improve under new assistant coach Brett Kirk.

"We finished pretty strong in the midfield last year," he said.

"With those players and the acquisition of Brett Kirk as a bit of a mentor as well, we are going to go from strength to strength.

"He's quite an intense guy, really competitive but just really well-rounded and balanced and understands what's required.

"He's got a lot of knowledge and wisdom, he's been there and done it all so he's a great resource to leech off.

"I'm always open to learning new ways of doing things.

"No doubt I'll learn a bit off him over the next couple of weeks."

Fyfe's value to the Dockers in 2012 was never more apparent than on Brownlow Medal night when he polled 14 votes despite his injury setbacks.

Only captain Matthew Pavlich (15) earned more votes for Fremantle and he played 23 games.

Already on the fourth line of betting at $13 for next year's Brownlow, Fyfe said he hoped to remain injury-free.

"I'm really looking forward to next season," he said.

"The main goal is to try and get through the full season without breaking down.

"Hopefully if I can have a big pre-season and get my body in the best possible condition, it will set myself up."

The West Australian

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