FREMANTLE sensation Michael Barlow is keeping his feet firmly on the ground as his debut season climbs to new heights, shrugging off hype that he could become just the third player to win the Brownlow Medal in his first AFL season.

Barlow, who was re-signed by Fremantle until the end of 2012 after just two games, is enjoying a record-breaking debut year that has seen him win more possessions (337) in his first 12 games than anyone before him.

The 22-year-old is now second favourite for the Brownlow Medal with some betting agencies, behind Geelong’s Gary Ablett, but he said joining Fitzroy’s Haydn Bunton and Footscray’s Brad Hardie as player’s to win the illustrious award in their first year was not on his mind.

“To be honest, I don’t read anything into that at all,” Barlow said from Fremantle Oval on Monday.

“You do hear about it – it’s hard not to hear about that stuff – but as far as I’m concerned I’ve played 12 AFL games and I’m just looking forward to my 13th against Port Adelaide.

“That’s no reason you play football. Playing at Werribee for two years, it’s been a dream to get into the system and get involved.

“It’s definitely a collective environment – we, not I, here at Fremantle.”

Barlow set a new record with official statistician Champion Data on debut, winning 33 possessions in Fremantle’s round one win over Adelaide, and he hasn’t let up since.

The 22-year-old leads the club for disposals and sits second for contested possessions, while he is in the top three at Fremantle for tackles, marks, handballs and goals, kicking 14 in his 12 games.

Barlow has partnered with David Mundy and Aaron Sandilands this season to play a crucial role in one of the AFL’s most effective clearance combinations, and he said Mundy had played a key role in his first year at Fremantle.

“David Mundy’s a great role model for me personally, being in the midfield with him so much,” Barlow said.

“He’s an easy person to talk to, he leads by example on the footy field and I think he takes the mentality out there that he’s playing in front of Kings Park and Seymour and not playing at Subiaco Oval in front of 40,000 people.

“He’s a very professional, knowledgeable, down to earth, modest person.”

Barlow said being re-signed by Fremantle after just two games was an amazing feeling, and he praised both Mundy and midfield coach Barry Mitchell for helping him through his debut year, saying he had felt no homesickness at all.

“On draft day I was happy to come over here to Fremantle, the furtherest club away, or go to North Melbourne, which I was only about 1km away from,” he said.

“I was just keen as mustard to get in the system, and to be over here in Fremantle I couldn’t be happier.

“I’m forever indebted to the Fremantle Football Club for giving me that opportunity. They’ve been so fantastic to me in the NAB Cup, and the initial stages of the season.

“The personalities at the club, I couldn’t be at a better place with a better bunch of people. I’m stoked to be on board until the end of the 2012 season.”

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