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Walters praises Bennell's attitude

Alex Malcolm  February 9, 2016 10:47 PM

Michael Walters has been glowing in his praise for teammate Harley Bennell.

Fremantle forward Michael Walters says Harley Bennell's attitude has been ideal despite being stuck in the rehab group for the past six weeks. 

Bennell has been training away from the main group since Christmas as he continues to try and overcome a calf problem. He had a history of calf issues at Gold Coast and coach Ross Lyon said last week that the Fremantle Dockers were trying to build some foundations to ensure that he becomes an eight-to-10-year player at Fremantle.

Walters said Bennell's attitude had been exemplary throughout the summer.

"Harley is a pretty likeable guy, he fits in pretty well," Walters said. 

"For the first couple of weeks of pre-season he was training hard and he looked good.

"He still looks good now but he had a bit of calf setback but he's doing everything he can to make sure he's right for round one.

"But he's working hard in the rehab group and you can't fault his attitude since he's been at the club." 

Walters and Michael Johnson were amongst the first two Fremantle players that Bennell spoke to before requesting a trade to the Freo Dockers from the Suns last year.

Walters said he and Johnson shared their personal stories with Bennell in a bid to help him get his football career back on track as well as help him understand the Freo Dockers' culture. 

"Without going into too much, I spoke to him about when I went back to Swans (Swan Districts) and Johnno spoke to him about his past," Walters said. 

Lyon sees Bennell as long term player

"It was just good to catch up because we've known Harley for a while now. We knew him before he came to the club and it was good for him to have someone to talk to. 

"It was more just a catch-up to have a coffee and see where his mind was at.

"We sort of went through and told him what we want and we expect at Fremantle."

Both Walters and Johnson have become outstanding players for Fremantle under Lyon. Walters has been the club's leading goalkicker in two of the past three seasons while Johnson was named All Australian in 2013.

Lyon has said Walters could captain Fremantle in the future, but the small forward wasn't elected into the leadership group this season.

Walters said he was not concerned by his omission but he was full of praise for Johnson, who was voted back into the leadership group for the first time since 2010.

"(I was) really pleased," Walters said. 

"Johnno has been there for me since day one and whether he got in or not he was always going to be a leader for me, not only to the indigenous boys but just to the whole group in general."

Walters was speaking at Ron Jose Oval in Midvale, a ground where he started playing football as an eight-year-old.

He was there to help coach a group of indigenous youngsters as they prepared for the Nicky Winmar Cup, a round-robin carnival for indigenous teenage footballers in WA.