MICHAEL Walters credits Ross Lyon's tough love for salvaging his career, and has urged Fremantle to replace the sacked coach with someone who can build strong relationships with younger players.
The Dockers are expected to interview Collingwood assistant Justin Longmuir and WA under-18s honcho Peter Sumich as they cast the net for their sixth permanent senior coach.
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Fremantle finalised its selection panel this week, adding club great Luke McPharlin – a former teammate of Longmuir who was coached by ex-Dockers assistant Sumich.
After being named in the Virgin Australia AFL All Australian team for the first time, Walters reflected on Lyon's decision to send him back to train at Swan Districts as an overweight 21-year-old in 2012 as a turning point.
"I got on well with Ross because he sent me back and I realised that he was the one who gave me that drive to get back and play AFL footy," Walters told ABC Perth.
"It was more based around my own mindset where I don't want to let anyone dictate my career. Doing that, I used Ross as the fuel for me to get back and play AFL footy.
"Ross was one of those guys for all the players where you can walk up to, you can feel comfortable talking to him about anything. With a young group, that's what everyone really needs.
"I was close with Ross, but I also know where the club is going as well and I know what their mindset is about starting fresh and looking for someone else.
"I know the board is going to pick someone who is going to fill Ross' void and also the right decision and right choice for the footy club."
Star mid-forward Walters, who won Fremantle's goalkicking for a fifth time with 40 majors, also demanded an increased focus on skill development during pre-season.
The Dockers had the AFL's worst kicking efficiency this season and ranked 17th for goal accuracy.
"Throughout training we need more skill-based training drills," Walters said.
"Over the year our skills did let us down. At times it was really good, our patches of play were good, but then other times where it was just inconsistent and most of that was just based around skills.
"You've got guys like (at) West Coast with Lewy Jetta who comes running out of half-back and can hit a target, and it makes footy seem a whole lot easier when you're not turning the footy over as much.
"Our forward entries were bad at times."
Walters said it was a "great feeling" to be named an All Australian amid the "realisation that all the hard work pays off".
The brilliant left-footer will be in contention for his first Doig Medal next month, although two-time winner and Brownlow Medal fancy Nat Fyfe looms as the favourite.
Wingmen Bradley Hill and Ed Langdon shape for high finishes but both are likely to depart during the NAB AFL Trade Period, 12 months after gun midfielder Lachie Neale forced a move to Brisbane.
Walters nominated Brett Bewley, plus untried duo Tom North and Luke Valente, as candidates to help fill the midfield void next year, and called on Freo's next generation to seize their opportunities entering a new era.
"Injuries can happen any time, every club needs that depth, and like Fyfey said we can't just rely on our leaders or our most skilled players," Walters said.
"We need everyone to step up and play their role."