New Fremantle leadership group member Michael Walters says becoming a father and needing to look after his family were the catalysts for taking his AFL game to a higher level.
Walters’ career was at the crossroads in 2012 when he was sent back to the WAFL for substandard fitness levels.
But the 26-year-old has been a model of consistency ever since, with his efforts rewarded with promotion into Fremantle’s leadership group earlier this week.
New skipper Nat Fyfe described Walters as the hardest trainer at the club, and the goalsneak is proud of what he’s been able to achieve.
“I had to grow up and become more of a man, in a sense,” Walters said on Thursday.
“I became a father. I had a lot of things going on in my life where I had to just be strong for them and focus on my career.
“So I think my family was a big part, with a lot of help from everyone at the footy club.”
Walters said the stern talking to he received from coach Ross Lyon several years ago has always stuck in his mind.
Fremantle will unveil a new-look forward line this year.
Matthew Pavlich is retired and Shane Yarran has been cut from the club after being charged with assault.
Former Giant Cam McCarthy and ex-Geelong forward Shane Kersten have been recruited to the Dockers to boost the club’s scoring power.
Walters is a three-time leading goalkicker at the Dockers.
But he’s keen to continue the experiment of spending stints in the midfield.
“If I’m getting shut down – and even Ballas (Hayden Ballantyne) – if we’re getting shut down in the forward line it’s always good to sneak up to the midfield and try to break a tag,” he said.