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Friday, March 1, 2019

Fremantle Dockers to relish tough pre-season fixtures: Michael Walters

Fremantle star Michael Walters says the young Dockers are keen to test themselves against the best when they take on 2018 grand finalists Collingwood at Joondalup in the JLT Community Series on Monday.
But captain Nat Fyfe (elbow) won’t play, while there are doubts about ruckman Sean Darcy (hamstring) despite him being named in an extended squad of 30 yesterday.
Fyfe missed training yesterday after having surgery on a bursa on his right elbow on Tuesday, while Darcy joined Stephen Hill (quad) and Connor Blakely (hamstring) in the rehabilitation group.
With veteran Aaron Sandilands sidelined with a calf issue, Rory Lobb and Lloyd Meek rucked during match simulation at Cockburn yesterday.
“We want to put what we’ve put into the pre-season into practice this week and also challenge ourselves against a quality opposition,” Walters said.
The Dockers also take on premiers West Coast on March 10 and Walters said it would be possible to build momentum through the series.
“We do have a young group and the faster we can fast-track them and especially playing against quality opposition, they can learn a lot as well,” Walters said.
“We just want to play our game, really try and be competitive against those stronger teams and I guess we will see where we’re at.”
Walters, 28, was unsure if he would play both matches after being managed through the summer with a knee issue.
“I only played 75 per cent to 70 per cent during the intraclub game but hopefully I can play a bit more this first game,” Walters said. “The knee is fine. It was more precautionary with the tape and I think I’m going to carry that out through the rest of the year. I’m just more excited to get into games.”
Much of the focus has been on the race for big-man spots in the forward line, but Walters said the battle among the small forwards was also fierce.
Lachlan Schultz and Sam Switkowski were prominent during the intraclub game, which Hayden Ballantyne sat out, but he was back in training yesterday.
“It’s kind of hard because you’ve got a number of players that can play in that small forward role,” Walters said. “It’s a real consistent training load that the boys have been doing.”