Barlow close to 100 per cent
Michael Barlow admits he’s not currently playing at peak fitness, but the midfielder says he’s only “a couple of percentage points” away from it.
The 24-year-old said an interrupted pre-season had left him playing catch-up to achieve the condition he and the club’s fitness staff have targeted.
“I’d be lying if I said I was there at the moment,” Barlow said.
“I’m probably only a couple of percentage points off peak fitness, but in modern day footy, a couple of percentage off is going to give opposition players that little bit of an edge for that five minute patch.”
Barlow said his early form was a reflection of an interrupted pre-season and the weekly management of his body.
But he was also confident he was very close to his best.
“I feel I’m only going to get better with more full-time training and game time,” he said.
“I’ve just got to keep developing my fitness and use it as a weapon because it has been a strength of mine in the past.”
Fremantle’s midfielders have been under heavy scrutiny in the media this week following the disappointing loss to West Coast last Sunday, but Barlow said external opinions weren’t something the players were losing sleep over.
“I don’t like to pay too much attention to external opinions,” he said.
“It’s the media’s job to give opinions and validate them in whichever way they feel.”
“Personally, I watch the news if it’s on to get a bit enlightened, but you don’t really take it as gospel,” he said.
Barlow said all that concerned him and the other players was the feedback from within the club.
“It’s the coaching staff that holds the players accountable, not the media,” he said.
“When the coaches and the fitness staff hit me up with how I’m travelling, then that’s what I really concern myself with and approach about getting better.”
“We listen and react to suggestion and critiques from within rather than jumping at shadows from external perceptions of us.
“Unless its evidently apparent to us, or a pressing issue, that’s when we get into action and plan to be better.”
The 2010 Beacon Award winner agreed with senior coach Ross Lyon’s evaluation after the Carlton Mid Derby loss that Fremantle’s midfield needed to lift.
But Barlow said it was only in the past two weeks that the midfield had been comprehensively beaten.
“Up until then we had started pretty well this season,” he said.
“We’ve gone away from the things that had made us a fairly successful midfield group and allowed the opposition to have a dominant 20 minute period where they’ve got the ball out of the stoppages with far too much ease and regularity.
“We’ve got to hit that on the head and not allow teams to get that gap where they “obliterate” us in clearances, to use Ross’s words.”