Fremantle defender Garrick Ibbotson had a career-best AFL season in 2015 and even he took inspiration from what Brownlow Medal favourite Nat Fyfe did under duress during Friday night’s preliminary final loss to Hawthorn.
Despite at times looking as if he could barely walk, let alone run, at Domain Stadium as Hawthorn beat Fremantle 27 points to advance to the grand final, Fyfe put in a monster effort to keep the Dockers in the contest.
Fyfe remains the favourite for Monday’s Brownlow Medal despite an injury-interrupted second half of the season, and did all he could with 24 possessions (16 contested), nine clearances and six tackles.
Ibbotson admired what his teammate did after a quiet first quarter.
“He’s a real competitor so he’s always going to keep giving everything he’s got.
“Towards the end there it looked as though he was hardly moving, but he always wanted to play and he showed why he is the star player that he is,” Ibbotson said.
“I thought he was alright going into the game even though he wasn’t quite 100 per cent, but he’d come a long way with all the recovery he’d done the last couple of weeks.
“I know that he wasn’t perfect but you could see by the end how hard it was for him to keep going.”
Ibbotson had previously been a solid yet injury-prone player, but the 150-game 27-year-old had his career-best season in 2015 in the Dockers’ back line playing a variety of roles effectively.
He puts that down to being healthy and now he’s looking forward to tackling the upcoming pre-season without having any surgery to recover from as Fremantle uses the pain of a losing preliminary final after being minor premiers as motivation.
“You are one game away from playing in a grand final again and we were in the game, but a few things didn’t go our way and we couldn’t finish or use the ball properly.
“We’ll learn from that,” Ibbotson said.
“I was able to play every game this year so consistency with me is one thing that helps me play well.
“I’ve had some injuries in the previous years but that consistency of playing is probably the best thing I got out of this year.
“Considering how much footy I’ve played this year the body’s feeling pretty good. I had surgery again last pre-season so it will be good going into off-season without any surgery so I can keep running, and stay as fit as I can to come back in good shape.”