Barlow to take next step
Fremantle midfielder Michael Barlow says he is glad he didn’t rush his 11-month recovery from a horrific broken leg as he prepares to play a half of football in the WAFL reserves this Saturday.
An excited Barlow has completed a “mini pre-season” in recent weeks and, after a full week of training, will make his long-awaited playing return with Peel Thunder.
The 23-year-old said he had received key advice from former Richmond and Western Bulldogs forward Nathan Brown, who urged him not to rush his recovery like he had.
Fremantle has never placed a timeline on Barlow’s recovery and the midfielder said he would approach his return “full steam ahead” rather than worrying about future complications.
“He (Brown) conceded that he probably rushed it a bit (and) ran into some issues further down the track,” Barlow said from Fremantle Oval on Monday.
“But it’s going to be 11 months for me personally, and the physios and sports science guys have been adamant that once we’re back up and going, it’s just a matter of full steam ahead.
“Jason Weber, our main sports conditioning guy, conceded right from the start that we’re going to hit some hurdles.
“(But) a few weeks ago when I was in Melbourne with the team, I did a kind of milestone run that hit me back to AFL conditioning so to speak and he said, ‘The hurdles we’ve hit have only been [low] where they could have been up here’.
“That gives me a lot of confidence to know that nothing major has gone wrong.”
Barlow’s stunning debut 2010 season came to a halt against Port Adelaide in round 14, and he averaged 28 disposals and more than a goal a game in his 13 matches.
The Werribee recruit received immediate support from Brisbane Lions coach Michael Voss, Richmond captain Chris Newman and former Melbourne forward Garry Lyon, who all returned from broken legs.
They and Brown have remained in contact, and Barlow said he was humbled by the support he had received.
“It’s fantastic to know those guys are following you with interest and wishing you every success,” he said.
“To see like what Michael Voss was able to do from when he did it relatively early in his career, that gives you a lot of confidence.
“From my point of view, the bone healed really well and it was just a matter of getting on top of the soft tissue. I’ve been able to do that and it’s all systems go from here.”
Coach Mark Harvey has forecast up to five weeks in the WAFL for Barlow, who will likely push into the Peel Thunder league team for close to a full match in his second week back.
Barlow said he was limiting his expectations about a return to senior football and wouldn’t be the answer to Fremantle’s problems following a disappointing 46-point loss to St Kilda.
“It’s up to me and my performance I suppose as to when I get back in the AFL side,” he said.
“It’s been a long time and I’m limiting my expectations.
“I’d love to be playing AFL footy this weekend, but we’ll have to wait and see how I go initially in the WAFL.
“Depending on WAFL form we’ll be able to have a good look at that over the next couple of weeks.
“I’m only one person within a great organisation on a list of 46 players.
“It’s not all about myself and what I’m going to do for the team, it’s what the team can do together and what I can do to help the team.”