Walters’ wake-up call
Fremantle is hopeful forward Michael Walters will receive a wake-up call after being sent back to WAFL club Swan Districts to train.
Walters, who has played 11 games in three seasons, returned to pre-season training in poor condition and was told by the club last week that he was not meeting the physical requirements for AFL football.
Defender Luke McPharlin said the club would continue to support the talented forward, but he needed to fall into line with the physical requirements that have been set by Lyon and the coaching group.
“We’ve got a situation where the majority of the playing group are weighing in in that area, and he’s on the outer,” McPharlin, a member of the club’s leadership group, said.
“I’m sure he would certainly prefer to be at Fremantle Football Club, and it could possibly be the wake-up call he needs.
“We all know that he has undoubted talent, and we’d love to see that on the main stage.
“It’s going to be a big few months for him.”
Fremantle will continue to work closely with Walters, football manager Chris Bond said, but he will do all training with Swan Districts until he brings his fitness levels to club standard.
McPharlin said the players would also support the 21-year-old, but the ball was in his court.
“He’s certainly not being ousted from the team, he’s welcome back as soon as he comes back in pretty good shape,” McPharlin said.
“Even throughout the season if he has injury concerns and so forth, the football club will certainly support him in all those areas.
“We’re not in the business of throwing people overboard … by no means are we shutting the door on him.”
Walters was the obvious absentee from Fremantle training on Monday morning, with midfielders David Mundy and Anthony Morabito also missing as the club manages their respective returns from ankle and knee surgery.
Nat Fyfe, Nick Lower and Garrick Ibbotson, who all had shoulder reconstructions during the off-season, completed a long running session, as did ruckman Aaron Sandilands.
McPharlin said the standard of pre-season training had lifted this year, with players keen to impress new coach Lyon less than a month before Fremantle’s NAB Cup opener against West Coast and Essendon at Patersons Stadium.
“Everyone’s training really hard at the moment, knowing that if they put in a lot of hard work they’ll be given opportunities,” McPharlin said.
“A few of the senior guys had a gradual build-up, knowing that we’ve got some older bodies.
“But we have the majority of our team on the track at the moment and the training drills are running pretty smoothly.”
McPharlin, who finished fourth in Fremantle’s best and fairest last year after a standout season as the club’s premier key defender, made a slow start to pre-season training due to groin soreness.
However, the 30-year-old said he had been in full training since late December and was feeling good ahead of his 13th AFL campaign.
“I was carrying a bit of soreness through the season, so just on the back of that I took a bit longer over the break to help my body recover,” he said.
“I had a reasonably [gradual] build-up over the summer, but I’m up and going now – my body feels really good.”