What’s wrong with Fremantle’s Nick Lower?
What’s wrong with Nick Lower?
It’s a question many Fremantle supporters ‑ indeed, football fans in general – might have asked after Lower’s influential 30-possession outing in Sunday’s win over Sydney.
The question doesn’t stem from Lower’s form in his 14 games to date for the Dockers.
Rather, it relates to how the courageous midfielder could have been delisted at the end of the 2009 season by Port Adelaide, a club which finished 10th last year and currently sits rock bottom on the AFL ladder.
And also how, in an era when mature age recruiting has supposedly become an art form, Lower could have been completely ignored in the 2010 national draft and then lasted until the 38th pick of the rookie draft.
The answer, according to Nathan Bassett – Lower’s coach at Norwood last year – is that there is “not much at all” wrong with the 24-year-old.
“I doubt Fremantle thought he’d end up playing this much but they would have known that he’s a good leader and he’s tough,” Bassett said.
“He’s the kind of player that wouldn’t use up any extra time of anyone at the club and would also help the people around him.
“When Nick was at Port they used him in a variety of positions, including half-back and half-forward, so getting to play continuously as a midfielder – which is really what he is – would be a big help.
“I didn’t see the game against Sydney on the weekend but I’ve got Nick in my (fantasy) team and I know he scored a truck-load of points.”
The biggest knock on Lower has always been his kicking.
Champion Data statistics reveal his efficiency by foot this season is 51.5 per cent, the lowest by any Docker to have played at least 10 games (curiously, emerging star Nathan Fyfe is at just 51.9 per cent).
On Sunday, when he had a season-high 20 kicks in wet and tricky conditions, only seven were recorded as effective.
By contrast, nine of his 12 kicks against Brisbane three weeks before that hit the target.
Bassett, who played 210 games for Adelaide between 1998 and 2008 and was an All-Australian in 2006, said the problem wasn’t terminal and was more mental than physical.
“That’s been his biggest weakness and it’s certainly something that he can improve on over time,” Bassett said.
“There’s nothing technically wrong with this kicking style, just sometimes he tries to do a bit too much with it.”
One thing Lower certainly does not lack is courage.
From being a likely bit-part player at the start of the year, Lower now ranks fifth at the Dockers in contested possessions-per-game, behind the big four of Matthew Pavlich, Fyfe, David Mundy and Aaron Sandilands.
Bassett, mentioned in weekend despatches as a bolter to be next coach of the Adelaide Crows, watched in awe at times last year as Lower risked his personal safety in helping Norwood to a miracle grand-final berth.
Lower was the club’s best-and-fairest as Norwood went from losing its first four games to getting within a goal of the all-conquering Central District in the grand final.
“He’s crazy,” Bassett said of Lower.
“He’s just that certain type of player who is always prepared to put his body on the line.
“I’m not so sure that Nick set out specifically with the aim to get re-drafted last year but he definitely wanted to do everything he could to improve his chances of it happening.
“In the end, you’ve got to give credit to Fremantle. The fact he lasted until 38th in the rookie draft means he probably wouldn’t be at an AFL club if they hadn’t taken him.”