Fremantle coach Justin Longmuir is backing Nat Fyfe to overcome the pain barrier and play his best football when the two-time Brownlow medallist makes his long-awaited AFL return.
Fyfe underwent two surgeries on his shoulder during the off-season before being grounded by a serious back injury that also required an operation.
The 30-year-old returned to full team training on Thursday, and he is on track to make his AFL comeback in the round 12 home clash with Brisbane on June 5.
Fyfe has endured a litany of injuries over the years and Longmuir said the bash-and-crash midfielder won’t be pain-free when he returns to the field.
“He’s worked through pain his whole career, and I’m guessing that will be the same, and I’m not necessarily talking about his shoulder either,” Longmuir said.
“He’s a really resilient character. He’s a pro, he works really hard to get his body right – up to its highest standard he can get it at.
“Once he does that, he prepares with what he’s got, and it’s his mental strength I suppose to be able to withstand the fatigue and soreness to be able to go out there and perform his role.
“He’s been able to put a lot of injury niggles and surgeries behind him in the past, and come back and play his best footy, and we’re really confident he can do that this time.”
Fyfe was sorely missed in last week’s shock 36-point loss to Gold Coast in the wet.
Third-placed Fremantle (7-2) will be aiming to bounce back in Sunday’s encounter with Collingwood (4-5) at Optus Stadium.
Fremantle are set to be bolstered by the return of key forward Matt Taberner (hamstring) and goalsneak Sam Switkowski (concussion), while veteran Michael Walters (concussion) is also a chance to be named.
Longmuir is optimistic defender Alex Pearce will be able to overcome an ankle injury he suffered against the Suns.
“Pearce looked a little bit slow in the week,” Longmuir said.
“He’s given that ankle another decent tweak. t’s just soreness and something he is going to have to manage.
“It’s not related to previous injuries. He’s just going to have to manage it through the year.”