Young ready to answer Dockers' AFL leadership call
Strong backing from teammates has given emerging defender Hayden Young confidence he can help lead Fremantle's push for a maiden AFL premiership this season.
The 21-year-old is the youngest and least-experienced member appointed to a new-look Dockers leadership group for 2023, with just 35 senior games under his belt.
He was voted in on the back of a breakout campaign last year, when he finished eighth in the Doig Medal.
Despite initial doubts, Young now feels ready to answer Fremantle's leadership call.
"I came into this year not knowing where I would sit with leadership (and) not knowing if I was ready," the 2019 No.7 draft pick said.
"I was like, 'Am I too young? Have I played enough games?' But the fact that I was voted in by my peers gives me a lot of confidence that they value what I bring to the club.
"They value what I bring in a leadership space and that gives me a lot of confidence that I can keep doing what I'm doing.
"Hopefully I can keep adding to the culture of the club and take us forward."
Dual Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe stepped down as Fremantle captain last month after an injury-riddled 2022 season, handing the reins to key defender Alex Pearce.
Midfield stars Andrew Brayshaw and Caleb Serong were appointed vice-captains, with Young, Sam Switkowski and new recruit Jaeger O'Meara rounding out the six-man leadership group.
"It's a new experience, a challenge and an opportunity, and it's something I'm really looking forward to," Young said.
"I've had the benefit of looking up to people like Nat Fyfe, Dave Mundy, Alex Pearce and Sonny Walters over the last four years and I've certainly learnt a lot from their leadership styles.
"At the moment I'm trying to find out where I sit within the group with my leadership style and how I can help the group moving forward and bring my strengths to the role."
Young played 22 games last season and featured in both of Fremantle's knockout finals as Justin Longmuir's side were ultimately tipped out of the flag race by Collingwood.
That defeat still burns and the near miss has been driving the Dockers over summer as they prepare for a round-one meeting with St Kilda on March 19.
"It's going to be really good to play against a quality opposition under the Marvel (Stadium) lights and see where we're at," Young said.
"We were disappointed with how we ended last year and we feel like we've got a lot to prove, and we've still got a lot to achieve.
"It starts in round one and we're really excited about the opportunity."