Last year, a simple overhead mark or laying a strong tackle would make star Fremantle midfielder Nat Fyfe wince in pain.

But after undergoing shoulder surgery and doing months of rehab during the summer, Fyfe is finally pain free and primed for a big AFL season.

Fyfe’s shoulder popped out of its socket several times last year, leaving the 20-year-old in massive pain and restricted in some of his movements.

Amazingly, Fyfe still managed to feature in 21 of Fremantle’s 22 games, averaging an impressive 25 possessions and booting 18 goals to only narrowly miss out on All-Australian selection.

The 186cm winger made it through last week’s intra-club hit-out unscathed, and his shoulder will get another good test in Sunday’s NAB Cup games against West Coast and Essendon at Patersons Stadium.

“The shoulder’s going really well,” Fyfe told radio station 6PR.

“It took a few big knocks (in the intra-club hit-out) but it stood up well.

“Last year was just a hassle.

“I couldn’t really tackle properly and overhead marking became a bit of a challenge.

“But we’ve had a good rehab on it over the last three or four months and it’s ready to go.”

Dockers midfielder Michael Barlow will miss Sunday’s games after experiencing soreness in the leg he broke 18 months ago.

But Fremantle utility Matt de Boer said the 24-year-old remained on track for round one of the season proper.

“He’s just being rested. We’re being cautious with him,” de Boer said.

“Obviously he’s going to be a great player and he’s definitely in our best 22, so just doing everything right by him to make sure he’s out there round one.

“He’s in high spirits and he’s very mentally tough, so he’s not fazed at all.”

Essendon’s Courtenay Dempsey will play his first game since rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament in round four last season.

But West Coast forward Mark LeCras will be out of action for the best part of 12 months after tearing his ACL at training on Thursday.

His absence has paved the way for former Bulldogs forward Josh Hill to nail a permanent spot in the Eagles’ forward line.

Fyfe said there was a quiet confidence about what Fremantle could achieve in 2012, claiming the transition to new coach Ross Lyon had gone smoothly.

“He’s an extremely approachable guy and really open to feedback from the playing group,” Fyfe said.Source Link

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