Docker Walters shines for Swans
Michael Walters took another step towards resurrecting his AFL career with an encouraging effort for Swan Districts on Saturday.
Fremantle squad member Walters and West Coast teenager Murray Newman caught the eye, but Peel maintained their impressive pre-season form by winning 15.12 (102) to 14.7 (91) at Steel Blue Oval.
The Dockers sent Walters back to his WAFL club on January 20 after he failed to heed warnings about his fitness and weight.
The 21-year-old slashed almost 40 seconds off his best 3km time trial time in the middle of last month and has continued to work hard, according to Swan Districts coach Greg Harding.
Harding said Walters was doing what he could to improve, including paying attention to his skinfolds.
“Sunny lost his grandad two weeks ago and for a young kid who has had a fair bit thrown at him in the past three months, he has done a great job,” Harding said.
“He had his skinfolds done at Freo last week and they were moving strongly in the right direction. I think it’s only a matter of time before he rejoins the Dockers.
“I coached Sunny as a colt and he has always been a very good player and a good kid. He’s obviously had some areas in his preparation where he’s had to improve.
“But I think he’s a genuine talent, and he will get it right and play some really good AFL footy.”
Walters has played 11 games since being selected with pick 53 in the 2008 national draft.
He kicked the winning goal against Brisbane in round one last season, but was dropped in round four and didn’t return.
A knee injury ended his season in round 16.
Harding said Newman, West Coast’s first pick and No.23 overall at last year’s national draft, had played with poise in attack and in a midfield role.
“Murray only played a half but played forward, then went on ball and was very good,” he said.
“He kicked a goal or two, ran hard to space, used the footy very nicely. With an AFL pre-season under his belt, I think he is going to be pretty handy for us.”
Harding said full-forward Ashley Hansen was battling groin soreness and would miss the club’s first home-and-away match against West Perth on Saturday.
Swans 2010 premiership players Tim Geappen (hip) and defender Wayde Twomey (knee) will press for selection against West Perth after missing the Peel match with lingering injuries.
Other Swan Districts players to fare well against the Thunder included league regulars Josh Roberts, Tom Roach and Shaun Hildebrandt.
Harding said consistent good form from younger players pressing for selection, including Rudy Riddoch, Nathan Broad, Adam McKinlay and Blaine Boekhorst, would make it difficult to pick a team for the game against West Perth.
East Fremantle outclassed South Fremantle at East Fremantle Oval in the other pre-season game.
Adam Waight kicked five goals for the Sharks and Justin Monaco four in the 20.17 (137) to 11.3 (69) victory.
Other East Fremantle stars incl- uded captain Mark McGough and 2011 club champion Rory O’Brien in midfield roles, ruckman Russell Gabriel, and defenders Jacob Brennan and Tom Howlett.
The Bulldogs host Perth on Saturday night.
East Fremantle have to wait until the following weekend for their first match of the season, against premiers Claremont.