Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir has defended the club’s decision to bring Nat Fyfe back from injury in the WAFL rather than Sunday’s AFL clash with the Brisbane Lions.
The Dockers are priced at 7/10 to beat the Lions and continue their fine start to the season, but Fyfe will not play a part.
The Dockers captain has not played all season after suffering with shoulder, back and knee issues but is now back to full fitness and ready to play.
But his return will see him play for Peel Thunder in the WAFL, not the AFL with the Dockers. That decision has copped some criticism. And although Longmuir can understand it to a certain extent, he says it is the right call.
"I understand the criticism that some may have of it, but we think internally we have the most knowledge of the situation," Longmuir said. "Fyfe knows his body better than anyone, and we've made this call to set him up for the second half of the year.
"It's not just the shoulder, he's had a back niggle, he's got a little knee niggle that he's had to overcome. Sometimes it takes a little bit of (time) to build confidence in not only your body, but your game as well."
Fyfe has not played since the middle of last season after needing to undergo a shoulder reconstruction and Longmuir says this is definitely the best way to bring him back.
"He hasn't played AFL footy for 10 months now," Longmuir said. "It's pretty hard in season to replicate matches at training, because the players who are playing do minimal load.
"When you're in rehab it's hard to manufacture that game-like training. So we just think it's a really good progression to be able to manage his minutes (in the WAFL)."