UPDATE: Fremantle have acted quickly to secure coach Ross Lyon beyond his current contract, this morning announcing a two-year extension which will keep him at the club until the end of 2017.
Dockers ruckman Aaron Sandilands has also agreed to a one-year contract extension, keeping him out of this year’s free agency pool.
Sandilands, 31, will play on until at least the end of 2015 under the agreement, which was first flagged by The West Australian last month.
Lyon signed a four-year deal with the Dockers after being sensationally poached from St Kilda at the end of 2011.
Given his tenure has already produced two consecutive finals series as well as a maiden grand final appearance, club bosses acted quickly to keep him out of the hands of rival organisations.
Speaking to the Dockers’ website, the 48-year-old said the decision to extend his contract was based as much on the desire of the playing group as it was on job security.
“We are in the business of building a great club and I know everyone at the club – players, coaches, administration staff and commercial operations – are trying to take that next step and continue to build,” he said.
“The pillars of leadership here that sit above me and I report to – (president) Steve Harris and his board, (CEO) Steve Rosich and Chris Bond as head of football – have strong, transparent relationships and everyone works really hard with strong integrity to achieve the task at hand.
“We are here to build a great club and great clubs win premierships and that’s what we want to be.
“It’s about sustained excellence and creating opportunities.
“If you only create one opportunity, then it comes down to different things on the day.
“But if you create sustained excellence and sustained opportunity, eventually things will fall your way. So that’s the aim for this football club.”
Fremantle chief executive Steve Rosich said it “made sense” to extend Lyon's contract.
The club announced this morning that a further two years had been agreed with Lyon in a decision that will extend the former St Kilda coach’s time at the Dockers to at least six seasons.
The early re-signing of Lyon was reminiscent of the club’s original shock announcement of the senior coach’s appointment and a sign of his standing at the club.
Lyon has guided Fremantle to a semifinal finish and a landmark grand final appearance in his two seasons at the helm.
Rosich said the senior coach was really well placed to continue the team’s improvement.
“It just made sense to look forward and make sure we’ve got everything in place to give ourselves the best chance of continuing to improve in this really competitive competition,” he said.
“It made sense to extend Ross’ contract, whose pivotal to our on-field success.
“We knew what we were getting when we secured Ross’ services just over two years ago and he’s certainly delivered on that.”
Although Sandilands is now locked away for another season, fellow veterans Matthew Pavlich and Luke McPharlin are yet to decide whether to play on.
The Dockers face a tricky transition period once the trio finally do retire, but Lyon is confident the squad is well placed to handle that phase.
“You can’t be a one-player or two-player team,” Lyon said.
“We went a long way to proving that method is the right way to go last year.
“We weren’t held captive by the injuries to Pavlich or Sandilands or Fyfe or Mundy.
“As much as they’re really important - and you can only sustain so many hits - all of us are just passing through. The graveyard’s full of irreplaceable players isn’t it.”
Sandilands has been plague by toe and knee injuries over the past three years, but the 31-year-old has looked fit and sharp during the pre-season.
Star trio Hayden Ballantyne, Nat Fyfe and David Mundy are all coming out of contract this year, but Rosich is quietly confident the club’s strong position both on and off the field will convince them to stay.
Fremantle kick off the season with a tough match-up against Collingwood at Etihad Stadium next Friday night.
- with AAP