FREMANTLE has put a line through Michael Walters for the rest of the season after the star forward injured his left hamstring in the closing stages of Sunday’s 29-point victory over Carlton at Optus Stadium.
Walters was leading opponent Jed Lamb to a contest at half-back when he pulled up short and clutched at his left hamstring.
The 27-year-old was briefly assessed and put on ice, bringing to an end a season riddled by setbacks.
“He’ll be done for the year now – another hamstring,” said Dockers coach Ross Lyon.
Walters missed three weeks with a knee injury sustained in round six and was hit with a one-game suspension for a gut-punch on Adelaide defender Jake Kelly in round 12.
His absence compounds an injury list featuring up to nine players in the club’s best 22.
Among them is superstar skipper Nat Fyfe who is rated only a ‘slim’ chance to return against Geelong next Saturday as he recovers from a lingering hamstring injury suffered in round 15.
“It’s a big number now, I think we’re looking at 14 or 15 players on our list, so it’s a bit of a challenge and a fair bit of quality in there,” Lyon said.
“From our end, if you think (Aaron) Sandilands, (Nathan) Fyfe, (Stephen) Hill, (Connor) Blakely, (Andrew) Brayshaw and Griffin Logue hasn’t played all year – there’s more than we desire in there.”
“Not only are Richmond proving to be the best team at the minute, they’ve got the best availability as they did last year.”
“We’d all like to get their secret of success for player availability but if you look around, GWS (and) Port Adelaide – those teams around the mix are losing players so I think it’s going to be very, very difficult to compete against Richmond with a full list.”
While Walters’ absence hurts Fremantle’s flexibility forward of centre, Lyon acknowledged the improvement of a three-pronged tall forward set-up featuring Matt Taberner, Brennan Cox and Cam McCarthy.
The trio combined for six goals, eight contested marks and showed synergy in their leading patterns to create space inside 50.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to grow your own if you can’t get them through the door,” said Lyon.
“If we give them some good looks and some good opportunities at equal numbers they look quite dangerous.”
“I think Cox, McCarthy and Taberner…Barring Taberner they’re quite young and he’s really just coming to hand.”
“That’s what our future looks like.”
Fremantle will take confidence into next week’s clash against the Cats at GMHBA Stadium after falling agonisingly short of a shock win at the venue last year.
On that occasion, Walters missed a snap on the siren that would have handed the Dockers a three-point victory.
“We competed really well last year down there, last kick of the game and we need to go down there and compete strongly and try and improve our method,” Lyon said.
“We haven’t shut up shop. There’s been good spirit all year.”