Walters thankful for Lyon ‘giving second chances’
MICHAEL Walters happily takes on the role of mentor to his younger Fremantle teammates these days.
It’s a far cry from when Ross Lyon arrived to coach the Dockers in 2012 and, soon after, exiled the small forward for being overweight.
The former St Kilda mentor knew the 21-year-old simply wasn’t maximising his freakish talents.
“My career didn’t start off as I wanted it to,” Walters told Australian Regional Media ahead of the Dockers’ clash with the Gold Coast. “I had to mature and grow up.
“I tell the younger players now to make the most of their opportunity, and don’t take your career for granted because at any time it could end.”
Now 26, he’s become the consummate professional, and one of the league’s most dangerous small forwards, but Walters feels it would’ve been over for himself if Lyon had not have come along.
“If they had have kept (then coach) Mark Harvey or gotten somebody else to coach … I don’t think I’d still be there; I would’ve been spat out of the system a long time ago,” he said.
“Rossy is the sort of coach that really sticks by his players.”
Walters is adamant, though, he “wouldn’t change anything”.
“Players like Nick Suban and Stephen Hill, who I was drafted with, they’ve played 120, 150 games and I’ve barely made 95 (88),” he explained.
“But, looking back on it, being sent back to Swan Districts (in the WAFL) and all the media speculation that I wasn’t fit enough, I wouldn’t change it for the world ... it’s made me the player that I am today. I feel like I’ve got a story to tell and I’m trying to tell it.”
Walters, while laughing off speculation he could be traded to the GWS Giants next season, is also hoping to see the Dockers (3-13) back on track in 2017 after a season destroyed by injury, most notably to Brownlow Medallist Nat Fyfe and star Suns recruit Harley Bennell.
“It’s been pretty disappointing but the injuries have made room for a lot of younger players to come in and step up,” he said.
While not that young, 27-year-old mature-aged recruit Shane Yarran is another Lyon has stuck by. After ending up in court recently for disorderly behaviour, he makes his long-awaited debut at Metricon Stadium tomorrow.
“Shane’s dedicated to the club – he’s been working hard. His fitness is right up there. He’s probably one of the best runners at the club,” Walters said. “It’s good to see him finally get a game. He deserves it.
“Ross is all about giving second chances – no matter what your past was, he’s always there to help you out, lead you down the right path, try and get your career, and your life, back on track.”