Fyfe to get rid of bump instinct

Fremantle star Nat Fyfe says he is working to rid himself of the instinctive habit to bump to avoid being suspended again at another crucial time of the season.

Fyfe, 22, is preparing to return against pre-season premiership fancies Sydney at the SCG on Saturday as Fremantle confirmed Michael Walters would have ankle surgery later this week.

The decision on Walters was made after a Melbourne specialist reviewed secondary scans.

The Dockers would not officially rule the forward out for the year yesterday, but coach Ross Lyon said earlier in the week an operation could be season ending.

Walters illustrated his importance to Fremantle last season, booting a team-high 46 goals.

Fyfe's return comes after serving a two-match ban for a bump that would almost certainly have been cleared by the AFL match review panel last season.

His inclusion boosts Fremantle as they embark on their toughest stretch of the home-and-away season, their next two games against the Swans and North Melbourne coming after six-day breaks, followed by tussles with West Coast, Port Adelaide (away) and Geelong (home).

Fyfe said it was crucial he learnt from his mistake to avoid being unnecessarily sidelined.

"Initially it was quite frustrating, as all suspensions and time away from the game are," he said.

"But for the betterment of my footy I really had to accept it, cop it on the chin and throw myself into my training and getting ready to play the Swans.

"The protection of my shoulder was borne on the back of some shoulder instability in 2011-12 and that was a habit that I've created and now I've got to get out of that habit.

"The shoulder's fully stable again, so I really have to retrain my body to go to tackle instead of bump because it could get me into trouble again."

Fyfe admitted it had been hard to watch Hawthorn's demolition of a weakened Fremantle midfield in round three.

"I watched it with Michael Barlow and it was really tough to sit and watch the smacking we got inside there in that game," he said.

"To the boys' credit after a pretty stern week in the meeting room, they really turned it around. Matty de Boer, Lachie Neale, Danyle Pearce, Stephen Hill - these guys really stood up and owned that inside along with Aaron Sandilands' dominance."

Fyfe has a remarkable record at the SCG, having polled nine of a possible 12 Brownlow Medal votes and averaging 26 disposals in his four games at the ground.

The young gun said he loved playing in Sydney and that a rivalry between the two sides had blossomed in recent years.

Four of the past five meetings have been decided by 13 points or less.

"There's been some great tussles," Fyfe said. "Ross Lyon and Mark Stone both have backgrounds at Sydney, so the coaching styles and philosophies are quite similar and the cultures are moving towards the same direction as well.

"We enjoy playing Sydney and I'm sure they enjoy playing us because we always deliver quite good games."

"… I really have to retrain … to tackle instead of bump because it could get me into trouble again."" *Nat Fyfe *


The West Australian

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