New Gold Coast Suns recruit Michael Barlow has opened up about his delisting from Fremantle at the end of last season, saying that hearing from Ross Lyon he was no longer required “rips your heart out a bit.”
The 29-year-old spent seven seasons out west with Fremantle and finished eighth in their best and fairest count last year despite playing just 13 games, but that ultimately wasn’t enough to keep the midfielder at the club.
“I’m really disappointed with the way it ended,” Barlow said.
“That there wasn’t a little bit of a tree branch extended to say, ‘We might want to keep you on.’
“It’s looking a guy you really respect [Fremantle coach Ross Lyon] in the eye, and they say you’re no longer required. It’s a bit of a check to the ego when you get delisted.”
It was a nervous off-season wait for Barlow as he didn’t make a move during the trade period, and had to hang his hopes on being selected as a delisted free agent.
Barlow was still carrying a shoulder injury after shattering his AC joint after a collision with Lincoln McCarthy in a match against Geelong in round 17 at the time he was picked up, and said he was nervous the injury could possibly mean the end of his career.
“It was a really tough couple of weeks that trade period, essentially because I had this injury with some potential to go the other way and not allow me to keep going,” he said.
“There was the timing of that, then a bit of bitterness that I was 28 and essentially kicked out the door for being too old. And it rips your heart out a bit, because you know what you have to offer.
“I had probably one of the best patches of my career for six or seven weeks, and a pretty significant injury which stopped it. That might have played a part, but at the end of the day you can’t dwell too much on what’s happened.
“They [Fremantle] have got a four-year plan, and Ross has got a little bit of security in his contract …
“[Moving] was the best thing that could have happened for me. I was really keen to move on regardless. But it’s made me a better person being at that club for a long time.”
After making the move to the Gold Coast, Barlow has hit the ground running in the JLT Community Series, collecting disposal tallies of 19, 31 and 29 across his three outings.
The veteran midfielder is excited to see what the Suns can offer moving forward, and Barlow believes they’ve got the freedom in attack to make a name for themselves over the coming years.
“I think there’s a little bit more flexibility in the game plan here,” he said.
“I just feel like the attacking side of the game here is really encouraged, and I reckon ‘Rocket’ has got that 100 per cent right, when you look at the list and see who we’ve got at our disposal, we’ve got some of the best athletes and natural players in the competition, so you want to harness that.”
“We want to really rip the roof off this joint here, and I reckon we have the potential to in a short time. It will work here, and I want to be part of it,” he said.
“If I can assist that push for this club to become a powerhouse, that would be pretty fulfilling.”