Fremantle’s dual Brownlow medallist Nat Fyfe could make his long-awaited comeback from injury in state league ranks this weekend.
Fyfe hasn’t played an AFL game this season after having shoulder surgery last year.
The inspirational captain has been suffering what his coach Justin Longmuir describes as “multiple little niggles” during his recovery, the latest being back problems.
Longmuir says Fyfe could return in the WAFL this weekend, which would be his first state league game in 12 years.
“It’s a serious consideration,” Longmuir told reporters on Wednesday.
“He hasn’t played footy for a long time now, he is coming off a significant shoulder injury but also multiple little niggles.
“And really the decision will come down to what gives Nathan the best opportunity to get back to his best form and finish off the year strongly and set him up for the second half of the season.
“That’s the consideration. We need to have a look at him this week to be able to make that final call.”
Fyfe will miss Fremantle’s clash against reigning premiers Melbourne at the MCG on Saturday ahead of an expected return to AFL ranks the following week.
“There’s a lot of factors that come into it but no-one knows Nathan’s body better than Nathan so he will have a fair say in where he starts his footy,” Longmuir said.
The fourth-placed Dockers have lost forward Sam Switkowski, who has been suspended for two games by the AFL tribunal for a dangerous tackle.
“Sam said after the hearing that he was disappointed in his actions and let his emotions and competitiveness get in the way of his clear thinking so he’s disappointed … he has let the team down,” Longmuir said.
Freo enter the clash against the unbeaten Demons on a two-game losing streak with Longmuir pinpointing multiple forced changes to their line-up as the primary factor in their dip in form.
“You look at the amount of ins and outs we have had over the last three weeks, it has probably led to a bit of an unsettled team,” he said.
“And the guys that missed through COVID probably haven’t come back into the form that they would have liked.
“We have just had so much disruption to our forward line so we need to just settle our team down again and get some continuity and form back first and foremost.
“All we can do now is look forward and try and regain the cohesion we had prior to the last couple of weeks.”
(Photo by Daniel Carson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)
Switkowsi banned two games
Fremantle forward Sam Switkowski has saved himself a longer ban for his chicken-wing tackle by pleading guilty at the AFL tribunal.
Switkowski was suspended for two games, sidelining him for the Dockers’ clashes against top sides Melbourne and Brisbane as they try to rebound from two consecutive losses.
The 25-year-old was referred directly to the tribunal on a serious misconduct charge for his tackle on Collingwood young gun Jack Ginnivan.
While the Dockers tried to argue for a significant fine, they did not try to talk down the offence.
That proved a smart move, with tribunal chairman Jeff Gleeson pointing out Switkowski’s “emphatic” guilty plea influenced the penalty.
“It will be apparent that in the absence of a comprehensive guilty plea, the sanction would have been higher,” Gleeson said.
Gleeson and jury members Wayne Henwood and Paul Williams took 20 minutes to decide on the penalty.
AFL counsel Andrew Woods had argued for a two-game suspension, while Switkowski’s advocate Seamus Rafferty called for a fine.
But Switkowski was always going to be suspended, given Gleeson said in his ruling the way he moved Ginnivan’s arm up his back in the tackle was “intentional, unsportsmanlike and dangerous.
“Given the two movements and the extent to which Ginnivan’s arm was forced upwards, it is surprising that no injury resulted,” Gleeson added.
The tribunal boss added the guilty plea and two character references, including one from Dockers boss Peter Bell, were mitigating factors in the penalty.
Switkowski was not called to give evidence in the hearing.
Woods said the tackle was unacceptable and “simply wrong”.
Rafferty said Switkowski had no intention to hurt Ginnivan and there was no malice in the tackle, also noting the young Magpie did not remonstrate after the incident.
The Dockers also referred to previous incidents that landed Carlton star Chris Judd, Richmond forward Jack Riewoldt and Geelong captain Joel Selwood in tribunal trouble for dangerous tackles.
But Woods argued the three incidents were different to the Switkowski tackle on Ginnivan.
Dangerfield out a month
Geelong coach Chris Scott has drawn a proverbial line in the sand about the injury management of battered Brownlow medallist Patrick Dangerfield.
Dangerfield will be rested until after the bye in three weeks as he recovers from a calf injury, the latest in a string of ailments to trouble the Cats champion. Scott says the decision may cost Geelong in the short term.
But the coach has reached the point where he wants Dangerfield at his best, not merely struggling through games due to injury.
“When I reflect over the last couple of years, we just haven’t had him firing towards the end of the season,” Scott told reporters on Wednesday. “And so … taking a bit of short-term pain to have him in the best shape possible at the end of the year, that may well cost us along the way.
“But in my opinion that is a better approach for us to take with him. Given there’s two games before the bye we can use that extra (bye) week which is probably more than he needs in reality.
“We think that is going to have him in the best shape to have a really good run at the last couple of months of the season.”
Dangerfield had convinced Geelong’s coaches and medicos that he could play through some injuries since round one.
Scott described Dangerfield “might be the most explosive player of his generation” but was currently lacking his renowned power.
(Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
More drama at Kangaroos as Ziebell hits 250
Captain Jack Ziebell’s 250-game milestone will come at the end of another torrid week at North Melbourne.
Three of their recruiting staff have left a week out from the mid-season draft, plunging the struggling Kangaroos into fresh crisis.
Also, their No.1 draft pick Jason Horne-Francis, who has put off contract talks with the club until the end of the season, was spoken to for taking an interstate trip without North’s knowledge.
Horne-Francis flew to Adelaide for Mother’s Day after their round-eight loss to Fremantle and after a succession of flights in a short period, he missed round nine with hamstring tightness.
North are wallowing at second-last on the ladder with only one win from 10 games and Ziebell will reach his milestone on Saturday against resurgent St Kilda at Marvel Stadium.
Now Kangaroos national recruiting manager Mark Finnigan and head of player personnel Glenn Luff have quit the club, while colleague Ben Birthisel left last week.
They have not made the finals since 2016 and second-year coach David Noble had to defend himself earlier this month after news broke of a post-game spray he had given his players.
Details of what happened immediately after they lost to Brisbane by 108 points in round three were leaked to the media.
But Ziebell strongly backed Noble, saying the coach was laying strong foundations for the club.
North have not made the finals since 2016 and Noble is their third senior coach in four years.
“I get the sentiment from the outside, the way he goes about it,” Ziebell said of Noble.
“But the way, for me, he’s been coaching has been fantastic.
“We’re learning plenty of lessons now that are going to hold us in really good stead in the next 12, 18, 24 months.”
Ziebell has been at North for all his AFL career and considers himself fortunate.
“It’s been a great journey and I’ve had some fantastic memories along the way, and (there are) hopefully a few more coming through.”