Fremantle coach Ross Lyon is uncomfortable that Nat Fyfe played with a leg fracture, saying the AFL club is not wearing it as a badge of honour.
Fyfe capped an outstanding season on Monday night by becoming his club’s first Brownlow Medallist.
He polled the maximum three votes in a whopping nine of his 18 games.
The star onballer finished on 31, holding off last year’s winner Matt Priddis from West Coast by three votes.
Fyfe arrived at the count with a walking cane and hobbled to the stage to receive his medal.
He suffered the leg fracture early in last Friday night’s preliminary final loss to Hawthorn, but played out the match and was among Fremantle’s best players.
It was a remarkable act of willpower and Lyon said he did not find out about the injury until well after the match.
“We’re not wearing it as a badge of honour as a club,” Lyon said.
“We’re not uncomfortable because we were negligent, but we were uncomfortable because we’d prefer it didn’t happen.”
Fyfe went into the game already with a leg injury, having missed four of the last six games of the regular season.
It was thought that barren end to the season might cost him the Brownlow, but Fyfe amassed enough votes early in the count.
He will have surgery this week to repair what Lyon said was a fully displaced fracture of the fibula.
“Half-time, the doctor said, ‘everyone’s clear’,” Lyon told Channel Seven.
“Even post-game, I was unaware.
“But he had a big collision, a clash of legs in the first few minutes. That’s when he did it.”
Fyfe said it was not the worst pain he has felt, adding that the adrenaline of playing in such a big game helped him through.
While Lyon was uneasy about Fyfe playing out the preliminary final, the coach heaped praise on the onballer for his season.
“Nathan sits comfortable alongside any other Brownlow Medallist with his level of performance,” Lyon said.
“It was extreme, it was consistent and yet he’s not satisfied.
“It’s a clearly significant performance.”
Fyfe went to a new level this year following a rigorous training program during the off-season.
“His legs looked enormous – I couldn’t believe it,” Lyon said.
“And all summer, he was just tearing the house down on the track and was just building on it and stacking the work.
“Then once we started playing games, it just erupted.”