Michael Walters of the Dockers chases down the ball.
Michael Walters of the Dockers chases down the ball. RICHARD WAINWRIGHT

'Fyfe just wants to lead and focus on his brand of footy'

MICHAEL Walters can't wait for the day he forms part of an electrifying Fremantle midfield group with Nat Fyfe and Harley Bennell.

Best-case scenario is later this year - if Bennell can finally overcome the injuries that have plagued his time as a Docker.

If it's next season, it will at least mean Bennell is fit and Fyfe has re-signed.

Fyfe, the 2015 Brownlow Medallist, comes out of contract at season's end.

Walters said he hoped his skipper would ink a new deal before long.

"We've still got half of the year to go, he's got plenty of time to think about it," he said.

"Right now, there's no doubt Fyfe just wants to lead and focus on playing his brand of footy.

"He'll focus on that sort of stuff when it comes (time)."

Bennell is yet to debut for Freo, with his time back home in Western Australia cruelled by persistent calf injuries - and the odd off-field misdemeanour.

The 24-year-old showed during his time at the Gold Coast the quality he possesses when fit.

"Mentally he's strong, he's ready to go. He's doing patches of training with the main group and you could see a glint in his eye ... he thinks he's close," Walters said.

"I would love to play some footy with Harley. He's been over here two years now. I played with him in a NAB Cup game early on (in 2016), and our chemistry was strong."

Bennell would be the icing on the cake of a new-look Dockers midfield that now includes three-time Hawk premiership player Brad Hill and Walters, who has moved more permanently from attack.

 

Nat Fyfe of the Dockers kicks long.
Nat Fyfe of the Dockers kicks long. JULIAN SMITH

Walters collected a career-high 38 touches in the win over Richmond in round eight, 26 against Essendon (round seven) and 27 (and three goals) against Carlton (round nine).

Walters, who kicked 44 goals in season 2015, is enjoying the freedom of not having a "lock-down small defender playing on you each week".

"I love kicking goals and love playing alongside guys like Hayden Ballantyne but it's also good to butt heads against quality midfielders like (Collingwood's Adam) Treloar," he said.

"Lots of players you can learn your craft off just by playing on them."

Watching him from closer range, Walters has a new appreciation of the work Fyfe does.

He expected his skipper to come out firing against Brisbane on Saturday at the Gabba after being met with some criticism for not reaching his lofty standards after returning from a broken leg this season.

"Although he's not having the big standout year, he's still in and under and winning the ball for us," Walters said.

"He's a natural-born leader and we want him to continue with the way he's going. What he's doing is great for us."

Walters said he expected Fyfe to use any criticism as "fuel to make him play harder and be more aggressive around the ball".

"He's the sort of player who invites the uncomfortability of all the pressure being on him. That's what fuels him to play even better footy."         

News Corp Australia


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