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Life in the middle

Tom Fee  May 15, 2017 12:20 PM

Fremantle sings the team song on Sunday.

Michael Walters' goalless drought in the AFL has now stretched to four games – but the small forward couldn’t be happier after Freo’s thrilling two-point win over Richmond at the MCG.

Instead of contributing on the scoresheet on Sunday, the three-time winner of Fremantle’s goalkicking award delivered in the midfield with a staggering 38 possessions.

Over the past two weeks in Fremantle’s midfield, Walters has tallied more contested possessions (30) than Lachie Neale (28) and more clearances (12) than Nat Fyfe (9).

“I’m loving it (playing in the midfield),” Walters said.

“Everyone knows my start to the year hasn’t been near my best, especially up forward.

“I’ve been struggling to kick goals and get touches, so it’s good to go in the midfield and play on instinct.

“I can let my footy do the talking rather than having someone locking down on me and trying to shut me out of the game, which has happened in the past.”

Walters’ midfield move has come on the back of a crucial injury blow to midfielder Stephen Hill during Freo’s win over North Melbourne at Domain Stadium in round five.

Hill was in career best form but his absence has been mitigated by the addition of Walters to the middle.

It’s seen Fremantle continue their run of success on the field, winning five from their past six games.

Ross Lyon joked in last week’s press conference that moving Walters into the midfield was “genius” - but Walters agreed that he would always relish a new challenge.

“I’m happy to have that role, if Ross says that that’s what I’m going to do then I’m going to try my best no matter what,” Walters said.

“My main role is to do what the team needs and to work hard.

“If I’m playing on ball I’m going to run and try and carry, use my skill around the ground.

“If I’m up forward I’m going to try and pressure and crumb like I usually do.

“Having a new role gives you motivation but also, it gives you a challenge.

“I’ve been challenged in the past and I’ve come out stronger and this is another challenge for me and I’m happy to make the most of it.”