Fremantle veteran Michael Walters has hit back at the doubters, saying anyone who thinks retirement is approaching for him is wrong.
Walters raised some eyebrows after producing a pointed goal celebration during Fremantle’s thrilling two-point AFL win over Sydney on Saturday night.
The 30-year-old did a yapping motion with his hand followed by a mock writing action after booting the second-quarter goal.
Walters, who is contracted until 2022, has copped widespread criticism for his drop in output this year.
The 173-game veteran entered Saturday’s match averaging just 13.4 possessions and one goal per game.
It’s a stark contrast to the most recent season of 20-minute quarters in 2019, when Walters spent long stints in the midfield and averaged 21.8 disposals and 1.8 goals per game to win All-Australian honours.
Walters has been forced to play mostly as a forward this year, but he relished more midfield time against Sydney, and finished the match with 23 disposals, four clearances and a goal.
When asked who he directed the hand jab at, Walters replied: “No-one in particular.”
“There’s definitely people out there who see 30 as a retirement age. At the end of the day I’m just out here playing my brand.
“I really love footy. For people out there to talk it up and talk behind the phones is wrong. It’s not (that I’m) really peed off. I don’t give one iota what people think.
“Everyone says that I was struggling, but my role is different.
“I’m playing more of a team brand of footy. Everyone expects me to go out there and kick four or five each week, but right now that’s not going to happen, especially with our structure and our system.”
Fremantle are sweating on injuries to forward Matt Taberner (ankle) and defender Alex Pearce (ankle).
Taberner was subbed off in the third quarter of the win against Sydney, while Pearce, who was making his comeback from a knee injury via the WAFL, failed to finish the game after pulling up sore in the ankle he had damaged previously.
Sydney defender Robbie Fox was set to go to hospital after being poked in the eye, while the Swans will closely monitor ruckman Tom Hickey, who copped a big knock to the left knee that he injured earlier this season.
Swans forward Lance Franklin starred with six goals, but Fremantle skipper Nat Fyfe kicked the winning goal.
Fyfe entered the match with 2.16 to his name this season, and Dockers coach Justin Longmuir was proud of the captain’s effort.
“One thing I know is he always stands up for us in big moments, he always wants the ball in his hands, and he always does the right thing when the game’s on the line,” Longmuir said.
“So it doesn’t surprise me that he wanted it in his hands and was in the right spot.
“He’s been a really good player this year. I just think the goalkicking thing (that people have criticised him for) has blurred his output, and I think that’s unfair, because his output around the ground, his output inside 50 to be able to get those shots on goal has been first-class.”