Ballantyne primed for season

Hayden Ballantyne’s pre-season form and fitness for the Dockers are an ominous warning for AFL rivals. Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au d397483
Hayden Ballantyne’s pre-season form and fitness for the Dockers are an ominous warning for AFL rivals. Picture: Martin Kennealey www.communitypix.com.au d397483

The Courier spoke to the star-forward as he prepares for his fifth AFL season that starts next Saturday with a derby against West Coast.

The 25-year-old is primed for another solid season after what he described as the best pre-season he has ever had ” an ominous warning for the rest of the competition.

‘I’ve participated in nearly every session and my fitness is the best it has ever been,’ he said.

‘The NAB Cup has been good but there is a bit of a buzz around the club now with the season so close. It will be good to get out there and play.’

Drafted at pick 21 by Fremantle in the 2008 national draft after winning the Sandover Medal following a breakout year for Peel in the WAFL ” Ballantyne has risen quickly through the AFL ranks, kicking 97 goals in 65 games.

The cult hero among Fremantle fans is a key part of the team’s forward set-up alongside captain Matthew Pavlich.

It was an elimination final win against reigning premiers Geelong last September that has Fremantle as short favourites to play finals again this season.

Some pundits have even tipped Fremantle to be premiers, but Ballantyne said the club was focusing on one match at a time.

‘It was my first final last year and this year we hope to play in more and of course we want to go all the way,’ he said.

‘We need to play to our best each week, but like every club I guess, a premiership is our goal.’

Ballantyne said he had not set any personal goals this year apart from making sure he contributed to the team and had an affect on each game. ‘I think everyone in the team is like that, we just want to work to help the guy who is next to us,’ he said.

Ballantyne moved back to his hometown Baldivis recently where he played junior football with the Brumbies until he was 16 before joining Peel.

‘I spent two years with Peel Colts and in that time won a premiership, which was a highlight, and I still keep in touch with mates from that team and have some really good friendships from that time,’ he said.

Ballantyne said Fremantle’s recent alignment with Peel under the WAFL’s partnering-system was ‘good for both sides of the fence’.

‘It’s good for the Fremantle boys to play with each other and learn structures and it’s good for young players at Peel to play along side them,’ he said.