Nat Fyfe recently spoke about an incident last year which ‘fractured’ his relationship with youngster Connor Blakely.
The Fremantle captain told coach Ross Lyon about Blakely’s decision to go surfing on a day where he missed out on a training session due to an illness.
Blakely suffered a one-week suspension in round 15 last year.
Prior to the incident, Fyfe told Blakely he would “look after and support” him but decided he must tell the coach for the “greater good” of the team.
“I knew I’d made a promise I couldn’t keep,” Fyfe said on the AFL Players’ Association podcast “Captain’s Call”.
“We had quite a close personal relationship and it fractured our relationship for the best part of six to eight months.
“I had a couple of conservations in the follow-up trying to repair somewhat and explain. But in my head I knew that time was the only thing that was going to (heal it).
“The way I handled it from a professional and a personal point of view, I look back and go, ‘OK, I could’ve done that better’.”
Blakely returned to the team the following week and has played every game so far this season.
Fyfe spoke on another incident five years ago involving a few first year players and some alcohol which opened his eyes on how to become a better leader.
“It was December so the first-year recruits had been at the club for six weeks,” Fyfe said.
“One of the players … said to me, ‘If you can stand up and name every first-year I’ll skol my beer’.
“I said, ‘No worries’ and stood up and spluttered my way through. There was eight of them and I think I got one full name correct and maybe one or two other first names.
“I had absolutely no idea about the rest of them, and so I had to skol the beer obviously.
“I thought I could help this organisation by just preparing with a ruthless intensity and being the best possible player I could be.
“But after that little incident I realised there’s so much more I could be doing, and building relationships with other players was a big part of that.”