Bulldogs keen to extend streak over Sharks
The WAFC levied a suite of penalties against the Bulldogs in March after an audit uncovered that they had exceeded their total player payments limit in the 2021 season, despite CEO Cameron Britt describing the breaches as “non-deliberate” and “not malicious”.
South Fremantle coach Todd Curley has admitted the premiership points penalty imposed on the club for salary cap breaches has affected his playing group this season.
Curley told Sports Breakfast his team had done their best to focus on the future.
“It’s been a year like no other, like nothing I’ve ever experienced,” Curley said.
“We understand there had to be a penalty but it was a really hard burden for the players, they had no say in it and on the eve of their season it was a really harsh penalty.
“When every person in the street or family member [talk about it] or they do an interview they get asked every time, there’s no doubt it’s had an impact.
“The other one is we just haven’t been able to get the band all together, to be honest. Our experienced players that we do have, Ah Chee, Florenca, Miller, Bollineau, Higgins, have all missed significant chunks of the season with contact injuries, Matty Parker’s another one.
“The good thing about that is we’ve seen some young players get an opportunity but also get an opportunity to play key roles, not just come in and play half-forward and back pocket or forward pocket and find their way for the first thirty games.
After an inconsistent season with five wins and eight losses, the Bulldogs’ streak of seven consecutive seasons in the finals will come to a close this year, but Curley said the club had drawn many learnings from their campaign.
“I think our last three weeks have been really positive,” he said.
“That’s probably built on the back of the circumstances we were dealt during the year. The players and coaches and really everyone involved have had to play with a penalty hanging over their head. Every loss felt like two or three losses.
“The last two or three weeks, obviously we’ve been out of finals, I’ve seen a real pressure relief on our players. They’ve soldiered on and been really resilient and trained really well.
“We’ve played some pretty good footy without getting results in the last six weeks. Now that that pressure of having to win every week is gone, it’s really lifted that weight off their shoulders.”
Curley’s side will look to extend their winning run over East Fremantle to sixteen games in tomorrow’s Fremantle derby, with the coach saying his team would draw confidence from the streak.
“We just need to play our brand of footy and be consistent,” he said.
“We need 22 to contribute, we can’t afford to have six or seven guys have a really down day without an impact.
“We’ve just got to play our best, bring our energy and effort. It’s been good enough in the past and we don’t see any reason why it won’t be good enough tomorrow.”
The Fremantle derby gets underway at 2:10 pm at Fremantle Community Bank Oval and is being broadcast live on 91.3 SportFM.
IMAGE: WA FOOTBALL