Struggling Docker on the block
Struggling Docker on the block

Fremantle will weigh up axing banished Josh Simpson at the end of this season despite the 2012 first-round draft pick having another year to run on his contract.

Simpson is still serving a leave of absence from the club two months after first being exiled from playing and training duties with both the Dockers and WAFL affiliate Peel Thunder.

The 20-year-old was told to undertake a personal development course during his time away from Fremantle that has involved working with an education officer and psychologist.

_The Weekend West _understands Simpson has made progress and stuck with the program, but is still dealing with the family issues and distractions at the heart of his disciplinary problems.

It is believed he would no longer be at the club if his contract finished this year rather than at the end of the 2015 season.

However, Simpson's chances of remaining a Docker beyond 2014 are still in the balance.

Club officials have the option of paying out the 2012 No.17 draft pick for his final year and releasing him at no great cost given his modest AFL salary.

It would not be the first time Fremantle have axed a contracted player.

Former Collingwood forward Jack Anthony was given his marching orders at the end of the 2012 season despite having another year to run on his contract.

If Simpson was retained, he is not expected to return to training until the start of next pre-season. One more indiscretion would almost certainly be enough to have his contract terminated.

The midfielder was originally fined by Fremantle after failing to show up for a flight to Sydney in April as the team's travelling emergency.

Other misdemeanours that led to him being given an indefinite leave of absence included turning up late to team meetings.

Simpson was granted leave in January to attend two family funerals near his home in Yalgoo, about 500km north of Perth.

He had earlier showed up to pre-season short of required fitness levels.

He showcased his considerable talent in round four as the team's substitute in just his second AFL game, collecting 13 disposals in a half against Essendon.

Fremantle football operations manager Chris Bond said at the time of Simpson's suspension that completing the personal development course was in the player's "personal and professional" interests.

"Although Josh has been endeavouring to deal with some personal and professional matters, he has not been able to consistently demonstrate the behaviour required of a player at this club," Bond said in June.

Fremantle are yet to get any great reward from their top draft picks over the past five seasons.

Jayden Pitt, a No.20 pick in the 2010 AFL draft, was forced to prematurely retire due to a heart irregularity, while the career of 2009 No.4 selection Anthony Morabito stalled thanks to three knee reconstructions. Tom Sheridan (2011 No.16) is also yet to take his chances at AFL level.

"… he has not been able to consistently demonstrate the behaviour required …""Fremantle football operations manager *Chris Bond *on Josh Simpson, in June

The West Australian

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