Barlow looks to recapture best form
Fremantle revelation Michael Barlow remains certain he can regain the form that had him in line for a Brownlow Medal in just his first season of AFL football.
Barlow has been back training with the Dockers for four weeks on an extended rehabilitation program, with aims of rejoining the main group in a fortnight.
The 23-year-old returned in Round 13 this year after recovering from a horrific broken left leg suffered 17 months ago in Fremantle’s win over Port Adelaide.
Barlow averaged 27 disposals and a goal a game in his maiden AFL season, but struggled to recapture that form when returning this year.
The on-baller was adamant he was not rushed back to help ease Fremantle’s 2011 injury crisis and said he was confident he could return to playing his best football.
“I felt fine (when I returned), there were no issues,” Barlow said. “I was really disappointed with the way I couldn’t contribute – I played in one win from our last nine games.
“Being a professional athlete, I’m confident I can get back to where I was.
“The first half of my first year, we were going really well and for the rest of that year as well, so we’re really hoping to replicate that.”
Barlow was confident he would be fully fit heading into Round 1 next year and said his stellar debut two years ago would not have him feeling any added pressure entering his first full season since his injury.
“From the outside looking in, it might seem that there’s a little bit of pressure on me, but within the four walls of the Fremantle Footy Club … it’s very well distributed, carrying the load,” he said.
“We’ve got 46 blokes on the list that are expected to do a job if they’re required.
“I’m no different to that and I don’t feel any more pressure on myself than a guy coming in as a first-year rookie, or the new draftees.”
Barlow said he would nominate for the club’s leadership group for 2012, which will be voted on by the players and game-day staff early in the new year.
Barlow also light-heartedly added the first meeting between he and new coach Ross Lyon had an interesting history to it.
“I trained with St Kilda a few years ago and they didn’t pick me up, so I don’t know if Ross rates me,” Barlow said.
“Ross has been fantastic, he’s a very good communicator and the players know exactly where they stand.
“I had a good chat to him – I went in there three or four weeks ago to have a quick chat to him and I couldn’t get out of there for about 45 minutes.”