Fremantle’s Nat Fyfe and Michael Walters have earned All Star selection for what will be a blockbuster All Star bushfire relief match against Victoria at Marvel Stadium on Friday 28 February.
Both players stated that they have a dual purpose for playing the game – helping to raise funds for the Red Cross bushfire relief effort, and beating the Vics.
While the Fremantle playing group was transfixed to the NBA All Star Game during their lunch break at the club on Monday, Fyfe said the clash would be much more than an exhibition game.
“I think we’re going to be a little bit more intense than the NBA game,” Fyfe said.
“We’re going to have the best players in Australia playing this competition, Victoria against the All Stars.
“There’s a fair bit of pride on the line, so it might start friendly, but I dare say it’s going to heat up pretty quick.”
Both Fyfe and Walters spoke about the importance of the AFL coming together as a part of the bushfire relief effort.
“It’s the purpose and the reason why we’re having the game,” Walters said.
“It’s a really important thing to do and we were excited to potentially be playing in as soon as they came up with the idea.”
As the reigning Brownlow Medallist, Fyfe said he couldn’t wait to do battle in the midfield, with fellow Brownlow winners Dustin Martin and Patrick Dangerfield set to lead the Victorian engine room.
“I think the personal battles will be what brings out the competitive edge in players,” Fyfe said.
“Midfields of Martin, Dangerfield and Scott Pendlebury against potentially a midfield of Luke Shuey, Stephen Coniglio and Patrick Cripps, myself and Brodie Grundy.
“There are some pretty competitive beasts playing against each other, not to mention the forwards and backs.
“Those inner rivalries throughout the whole game are what will bring out those juices.”
Walters has played a midfield role at times at Fremantle, but the All Australian half-forward said he wouldn’t be asking All Star coach John Longmire for a run through the middle.
“I don’t think I’ll get a crack in there, none whatsoever!” Walters said.
“I’m happy just to be involved and it’s good to see the guys like Fyfey, Dangerfield, Martin, these guys go at it.”
While State pride will drive the Victorians, Fyfe said the All Stars would be equally motivated.
“They claim it’s the VFL and it’s all about the Victorians but I think we’re a pretty proud bunch, the rest of us,” Fyfe said.
“As Sonny said, the opportunity to play a game in the spirit of the cause that it’s for in the bushfire support and the appeal, I think that’s the bigger purpose.
“It’s a lot bigger than Victoria and the All Stars.”