Loss of Barlow to test Freo, says Harvey
FREMANTLE coach Mark Harvey says the loss of key midfielder Michael Barlow will test his group, but he has challenged the side’s doubters to write them off at their own peril.
Barlow, who has emerged from Fremantle’s rookie list to be one of the stories of the season, broke his left leg late in the fourth quarter against Port Adelaide as he ran with the flight of the ball and collided with teammate Rhys Palmer.
Harvey said the 22-year-old, who attempted to stand up but couldn’t support himself, was distressed after the match and the club would wait on reports from hospital before declaring his season over.
Barlow’s loss on Saturday afternoon soured a 57-point win that leaves Fremantle two games clear in fourth spot, but Harvey said his side had the character to continue its impressive season.
“If people want to suggest that because we’ve lost Mick it may be the end of us, well do that at your own peril,” he said after the match.
“It’s indicative of the way we’ve been playing with that spirit, putting it all on the line; we’re going to have to show a resolve amongst the group.
“I wouldn’t have thought it would stop us from progressing.
“Football does test you in many ways. It’s going to test us in the near future.”
Barlow has been a key to Fremantle’s rejuvenated midfield this season, averaging more than 27 possessions and kicking 15 goals from his 13 games.
Harvey said the character Barlow had shown after being continually overlooked at the draft table would help him in his rehabilitation.
“I think there’s a few players that have been through this type of injury before and no doubt in time he’ll probably speak to those guys [to] understand that you can come back from those sorts of injuries and be the same player,” the coach said.
“It was indicative of the way he goes about his football that he was in that situation.
“When you look at Michael and his character and the way he went to stand up and all of a sudden his leg gave way, that’s the strength of the guy.”
Fremantle lost Antoni Grover (hamstring) and Nat Fyfe (concussion) before half time on Saturday afternoon, with Chris Tarrant a late withdrawal after failing to recover from an achilles complaint.
Harvey said Tarrant should return next week to aid an injury-hit defence, with Luke McPharlin two weeks away from resuming.
“This is where you find out more about your depth and particularly some of your younger players and perhaps players that have been around for a period of time,” he said.
“Just how the group handled that on the back of being challenged in the second quarter where it looked like we were going to be overrun, they’re the indicators that we like to dwell on.
“The fact that the playing group covered for the guys we couldn’t bring back on, there was more demand on staying on the ground longer, and to be able to halt Port.”