Michael Walters celebrates kicking a goal during the match between Richmond and Fremantle at the MCG in round eight, 2024. Pictures: Getty Images

FREMANTLE will consider using veteran small forward Michael Walters in the substitute role as soon as this week to manage the goalkicker after star teammate Nat Fyfe was successfully backed off against Richmond last Sunday.

Fyfe started as the substitute in round eight ahead of a five-day break for the Dockers, who earmarked the match during the pre-season as an ideal point for the dual Brownlow medallist to be managed if it was possible. 

Longmuir said Walters, who has played every game this season and kicked eight goals, could benefit from a similar rest in the next fortnight as fellow small forward Sam Switkowski pushes to return from concussion.


"We need to look after him and it's the same sort of philosophy [as Fyfe]. We'll see how he trains today and if it's not this week it might be next week," Longmuir said on Wednesday.

"I think the sub role is a good option because they get to be a part of it, they have influence while they're on the bench, and then they get to come on and have influence later in the game.

"We haven't settled on what we're going to do with 'Sonny', but it's an option."

Michael Walters in action during the match between Fremantle and the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium in round seven, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

Fyfe has been managed twice through a strong start to the season, sitting out the final quarter against North Melbourne in round two during a challenging early fixture, and playing just over a quarter against the Tigers on Sunday.

Longmuir said the club had been focused on managing the star proactively, even when the 32-year-old was coming off his best game in several years.

"He wants to keep that rolling and he feels like his footy is improving week on week, so sometimes you've got to save those types of guys from themselves because he works so hard and puts it all on the line every week," Longmuir said. 

"He understands where he's at and I think he was grateful for the lower game time, so we'll see if we can sneak him into the team this week.

"He is in good form, he wants to play every week, and he wants to be around the group, so we reached a little bit of a compromise that he could travel and be around the group, but he'd be sub and we'd control his game time just to try and lower his load throughout the year.

"When you're managing these types of athletes, if you wait for it to tip over and something happens, you're playing catch up."


Switkowski is pushing to play his first game since round five after suffering concussion, with the small forward needing to get through main training and pull up well before being available for selection. 

Longmuir said it was a concern that the 27-year-old had not recovered as quickly as hoped, but he had been able to complete all running, gym and skill training to make sure he could step straight into the 22 this week if passed fit. 

The coach was confident ruckman Sean Darcy would be available after suffering a tight calf against the Tigers, with a fitness test looming tomorrow. 

Sean Darcy (right) contests a ruck with Rory Lobb during the match between Fremantle and the Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium in round seven, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Countering the Swans' midfield looms as a challenge for Fremantle on Friday night, with Isaac Heeney (13 goals), Chad Warner (10) and Errol Gulden (seven) all significant attacking threats this season. 

Longmuir said the Dockers would be focused on preventing opportunities for the trio to push forward without sacrificing their own midfield strengths. 

"We'll probably go head-to-head. Our mids have been in pretty good form and they've been asking a lot of questions of the opposition," the coach said. 

"We don't want to get too defensive in this game. Sit back and be reactive against Sydney and they'll rip you apart, so we want to get on the front foot and put some of our strengths on the table as well.

"The midfield is one of those. We need to respect them, but we need to go back at them as well."