Ton-up for Mt Barker spearhead

Cameron NewboldAlbany Advertiser
Email Cameron Newbold

High-flying Mt Barker product Ben Saunders has an important few weeks ahead as he reaches two major individual milestones while doing what he can to propel South Fremantle towards another WAFL premiership.

Saunders will play his 100th WAFL game at league level this Saturday, an outstanding achievement from the Kendenup-bred footballer after leaving Claremont at the end of 2011 and then thriving at his new home South Fremantle.

After a season playing WAFL colts, Saunders struggled to break into the Claremont league side in 2011, playing three games and two Foxtel Cup matches despite kicking 68 goals in the reserves that season as they went on to win the reserves grand final.

After switching to South Fremantle, Saunders has never looked back. He booted 66 goals to win the Bernie Naylor Medal in his first season with the club and has since added the league-leading goal kicker award to his name in 2014 (59 goals) and 2016 (59 goals).

He has played 94 league games for South Fremantle to go with his five appearances at league level for Claremont and will reach the 100-game mark this Saturday in the traditional derby against East Fremantle.

The 25-year-old, who won the Sean Plaisted Medal as the Great Southern Football League’s leading goal kicker in 2009 after snaring 41 goals as a teenager for the Mt Barker Bulls, said it had been a long but rewarding journey so far.

“The transition was made a lot easier playing the year of WAFL colts,” Saunders said.

“I think it helped me playing against bigger-bodied adults down at the Bulls and then being ready for that physicality once I stepped up to seniors at WAFL level.

“The game is a fair bit faster and the boys are probably slightly fitter up here but it’s something you adapt to the more you play it and the more times you nearly die at pre-season training.

“One hundred WAFL games is an honour, but I think it’s more something I’ll look back on later on in life and reflect.

“To get 100 games for Souths is going to mean a lot more but even then, it’s just another week of footy, there is four points on the line and a bigger prize comes the end of the season so that’s all I’m focused on at the moment.”

The talented forward has kicked 38 goals in 17 games this season, with South Fremantle sitting second on the ladder as they look to end a premiership drought dating back to 2009.

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