Nat Fyfe is among the best players ever to pull on the Fremantle jumper, but one AFL legend believes there’s no option but to strip him of the captaincy.
AFL legend Tim Watson says there is “no way” Nat Fyfe can retain the Fremantle captaincy into next season as long as he continues to be hampered by the shoulder injury that cruelled his 2021 campaign.
Fyfe missed a month of footy after suffering the injury in the round 12 loss to eventual grand finalists the Western Bulldogs. He returned to play but was once again sidelined in July and underwent season-ending shoulder surgery.
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At the conclusion of the season, scans revealed a crack in the bone block inserted into Fyfe’s shoulder as part of the surgery, forcing him to go under the knife again.
Earlier this month, the 30-year-old contract contracted a bacterial infection in the shoulder, which is requiring intravenous antibiotics.
He is desperately fighting to be fit for the 2022 season, telling Channel 7 this week that his shoulder had been “blown to pieces” by the injury.
Speaking on SEN, Watson questioned Fyfe’s captaincy credentials.
“There’s no way known that he’s going to be the captain of Fremantle next season,” said Watson, who captain Essendon during his own playing career.
“How can you be under those circumstances? How can you be captain?
“He hasn’t run for four months, he hasn’t got back to training yet. He’s that far behind.”
Watson was met with resistance from co-host and Melbourne great Garry Lyon, who said the injury would not affect Fyfe’s ability to lead.
“Of course it does,” Watson countered.
“His ability to get out there and play is going to affect his leadership.
“If he’s going into the season underdone, if he’s going in with a real question mark about his ability to be able to play again in the way that he played previously and have that pressure on him.
“That’s the last thing you need to do and have leadership thrust up on you as well.
“There’s not a hot take in that. I’m just thinking about his situation right now.”
Lyon admitted that Fremantle might already be determining Fyfe’s successor.
“I’m sure they’re discussing it,” he said.
“But I wouldn’t have thought just because he’s going to miss the early stages of the season, it’s reason to put a line through him.
“But maybe they were in the process of transitioning anyway.”
The Dockers came within striking distance of a finals berth in 2021 but were left to rue two separate losses to Carlton, which ultimately forced them to miss the finals for a sixth consecutive year.
Fremantle will hope the addition of new recruits Jordan Clark and Will Brodie can help turn the tide next year.