AFL urged to do more to help struggling past players

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir says the industry can do more to help past players following the tragic death of Cam McCarthy at the age of 29.

McCarthy, who started his career at GWS before notching 49 games for Fremantle between 2017 and 2020, died last Thursday in Perth.

Fremantle captain Alex Pearce, Nat Fyfe and Luke Ryan were among the current Dockers players who were particularly close to McCarthy.

Pearce and Fyfe had tears in their eyes during a tribute to McCarthy before last week's 48-point loss to Sydney.

Fremantle's squad got together on Saturday evening to mourn the loss of McCarthy as a group.

McCarthy was the fourth former Docker to have died in the past six years, following the passing of Colin Sylvia, Shane Yarran and Harley Balic.

Just last month, Eddie Balic - the father of Harley Balic - blamed the AFL over his son's death at the age of 25.

Eddie Balic said the family should have been made aware of his son's substance abuse issues, instead of it being kept secret under the AFL's controversial medical model.

Longmuir believes the league has some good things in place to help current and past players with mental health, but says more can be done.

Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir.
Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir believes the industry can do more to help past players.

"We can always do more," Longmuir told reporters on Wednesday. 

"The Cam situation should bring it to the forefront, and more discussions should be had to see if we can improve.

"From personal experiences, I know the AFLPA (AFL Players Association) offer a lot of resources and a lot of services for past players.

"The discussion should be around how we can get those past players using those services, and making sure their wellbeing and health post-footy remains really vibrant."

West Coast defender Tom Barrass, who was a close friend of McCarthy's, posted a touching tribute to the former Docker.

"Men like these are hard to come by," Barrass wrote on Instagram.

"So full of love, kindness and laughter.

"But that's why they're so special, and the lessons they teach last a lifetime.

"I'm gonna miss you Universal Brother.

"Say Gday to the big fella for me and put in a good word please."

Fremantle will be back in action on Saturday night when they take on St Kilda at Marvel Stadium.

Dockers players were clearly affected by McCarthy's death during the loss to Sydney, and it remains to be seen how they will fare against the Saints. 

"They're holding up well. They're supporting each other," Longmuir said.

"The club has put things in place so they can reach out.

"We've got to find a balance now. We're into a new week, a new prep, and we have to refocus and come back together and give our best week of prep this week for St Kilda. 

"That process has started." 

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