Fremantle captain Nat Fyfe may have won two Brownlow Medals, but even that isn’t enough to elevate him to “champion” status in Mick Malthouse’s eyes.
Speaking on ABC Grandstand, Malthouse unleashed on the Dockers superstar, saying that he is still a ways away from being one of the “top quality” players in the league.
According to Malthouse, in order to reach top-line status, Fyfe needed to fix a variety of issues in his game, including his finishing.
“The word champion is not him. No. He’s certainly not in my top quality players that are playing league football,” Malthouse said on ABC radio.
“I still say the greatest players of all time have never won a Brownlow. So that puts it in perspective. If we’re really dealing with it – (Wayne) Carey, (Leigh) Matthews, (Kevin) Bartlett, (Ted) Whitten etc. They didn’t win Brownlows.
“The Brownlow is an umpires’ award, well and truly deserved, so I’m not saying for one moment he doesn’t deserve it.
“But to be a champion, you must finish off your work for a start off. He is not a good finisher in front of goal. When the chips are down, I wouldn’t rely on him.
“And he was found out again last week. He’s got an attitude that ‘I don’t have to defend’. If it falls in his lap, if it’s near him within five metres, he can tackle like the best of them. He is a very good tackler and he is strong and he is bold in that area.
“But if he has to run with his opponent when the ball goes into the opposition forward line, he is 15, 20m away hoping that the backs get it and get it back to him.”
Despite Fyfe averaging 24.3 touches and 3.7 tackles per game, Malthouse was also left unimpressed by his lack of defensive work.
“He does not defend. And there’s a lot of great players that don’t defend. So I’m not saying for one moment that he is Robinson Crusoe, he said.
“But in my mind to be the best player you’ve got to be, you’ve got to be able to do all the things that your coach wants you to do for your team so your teammates look at you and go ‘gee, he defends so well.’
“Because the other stuff’s natural. He takes a big mark. Reasonable kick. Reasonable handpass. You’ve got to defend.”