Former Fremantle midfielder Michael Barlow believes young forward Sam Sturt can join the likes of Nat Fyfe and Michael Walters as match-winning stars at the club.
Sturt did not make his debut in his first year at Fremantle. Drafted at pick no.17 in the 2018 NAB AFL National Draft, he missed most of the first half of the WAFL season after sustaining two separate concussions early in the year.
In a column in Friday’s The West Australian, Barlow wrote that Sturt could make a big impact at AFL level after watching the 19-year-old boot three goals on debut against Essendon at the weekend.
The performance earned Sturt a NAB AFL Rising Star nomination, as well as the praise of the former Freo Docker.
“For years now, Fremantle have had two match winners, Nat Fyfe and Michael Walters,” Barlow wrote in Friday’s West.
“But if round one taught us anything, it was that a skinny first-gamer has the potential to make that Docker duo a trio in the years to come.
“As the three-quarter time siren echoed around an empty Marvel Stadium on Saturday afternoon, Fremantle trailed by 26 points…as great players do, and as was expected, (Fyfe and Walters) lifted and sparked their teammates.
“But it wasn’t the All-Australian duo who rubber-stamped a barnstorming last quarter. It was Sam Sturt.”
While Freo fans were heartbroken to see their team fall short by six-points in a thriller against the Bombers, Barlow said the positives outweighed the loss.
“Would the emergence of a potential long-term match winner and goal-kicking forward in a loss be a better outcome than the old firm of Walters and Fyfe dragging the Dockers across the line?” Barlow said.
“Along with a career-defining game by Rory Lobb, the positives outweigh the negatives from the sole round.
“While it’s only one game, we won’t have a second for a while, so let’s celebrate the current clubhouse leader to win the Rising Star for 2020.”