The 22 year old was drafted by the Dockers with the 53rd pick of the 2008 National Draft along with Stephen Hill (3rd), Hayden Ballantyne (21st), Nick Suban (24th) and Zac Clarke (37th). Between them the quintet have tallied an impressive 309 AFL games all for the team that picked them. Of these five regular contributors Walters has played the least games (29) at the highest level.
Throughout his youth Walters grew up kicking a footy on the same street as Nic Naitanui and Chris Yarran, so perhaps it was no surprise that in 2007 he shared the Kevin Sheehan Medal with Tom Scully as the best player in the Under 16 National Championships. He then went on to be named to the All-Australian Under 18 Team in 2008.
Part way through the 2012 preseason Walters was sent back to Swan Districts to prove himself after the Dockers deemed him too unfit.
Dockers football manager at the time Chris Bond explained “we can confirm that Michael has gone back to Swan Districts due to the fact that he hasn't met the club's standards, expectations and requirements”.
It took 15 rounds for him to win over Ross Lyon and the coaching staff and Walters then went on to play the remaining ten matches of the season, which included two Finals. During this purple patch he slotted 22 goals and averaged twelve disposals per game.
Upon his return to senior football his proud coach had this glowing accolade to bestow upon his prodigal forward.
“All of the decisions and choices he's starting to make away from the club are disciplined hard choices, he embraces discipline rather than indulging himself. Clearly for a period as a young person he was indulging. He's harnessing talent with hard work.”
A glowing review for any young man.
“He wasn't living our values so he got sent back to the WAFL to train and he pulled the finger out and just got the job done,” explained teammate Hayden Ballantyne. “He was filthy on himself. But that's the good thing - he knew he was to blame and he got to work and he's back playing now so that's a credit to him.”
In 2013 Walters played the first eight games averaging 16 disposals, five marks and 2.5 goals per appearance before succumbing to a short term injury. In Freo’s Round 7 victory over Collingwood Walters amassed 14 kicks, five handballs, six marks, five tackles, four inside 50s and four impressive goals.
Whenever Walters is in full flight, creating highlights, dodging defenders, clutching overhead marks and kicking remarkable goals from all over the Fremantle forward line he is irresistible. Whether watching via television or in person you always notice when he is around the footy and a chance to do something special.
Walters should be returning from an ankle injury soon, now that Fremantle have been able to utilise a welcomed bye to rejuvenate a list that will likely be bolstered by Matthew Pavlich and Aaron Sandilands.
When he is fit, focused and firing Michael Walters is a very worthy addition to my man crush collection, especially considering we share a birthday.
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