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Bulldogs set for Darwin top end clash

Josh Kempton

South Fremantle’s preparations to head to Darwin for an exhibition preseason fixture are coming to a head.

The Bulldogs were invited up north by the NTFL and AFLNT to take on an all-star Territory team at TIO Stadium next Saturday during the league’s annual representative weekend.

The region has been a rich pool of talent for the club, with NT greats such as Maurice Rioli Sr., Sebastian Rioli, and Basil Campbell representing the club with great distinction.

“We’re thrilled to be heading up there this time next week, just to celebrate our relationship with the Northern Territory,” South Fremantle manager of male football Charlie Burke told Sports Breakfast.

“It’s 50 years since the first South Fremantle squad went up there, and we’ve got a really proud history with the Northern Territory and our connection with the Indigenous culture up there as well.

“We just think it’s so important, not only the proud history of it, but just the opportunity to get away for a few days with our group.”

A pair of club legends are set to feature for one last time in the clash against an NT side featuring former AFL players Mitch Robinson, Steven Motlop, and Harley Bennell.

“Ashton Hams is already up there at the moment, he’s been playing for Palmerston, but he’ll pull on the red and white jumper again, which we’re really excited about, and I know he’s absolutely thrilled and looking forward to it as well,” Burke said.

“Haiden Schloithe is heading up as well, obviously a Sandover Medalist and a five time W.J. Hughes Medalist, so great to have him join our group as well.

“We’ve got a lot of young boys heading up as well, they won’t necessarily play, but we’re using this as an opportunity as a bit of a preseason camp as well as an opportunity to have a preseason fixture, and it’s great to have those boys on board.”

Burke said the club would also use the trip as a developmental experience for some exciting young talent.

“We’ll announce the squad early next week, I think, obviously we’ve spoken about some names before, but we’ve got a few colts boys going,” Burke said.

“Roan O’Hehir will go, he’s just been killing it on the track and blowing up the GPS, which has been great. Jaren Carr was part of the colts squad last year, he’ll come up with us, there’s also Chase Bourne, who’s obviously a really exciting talent, I think he’ll gain a lot of experience with that, and he’s actually training with Fremantle at the moment.”

The Bulldogs have recruited strongly over the off-season after losing Schloithe, Mason Shaw, Nick Suban, and Steven Verrier to retirement and Hamish Free (North Melbourne) and Steely Green (Richmond) to the AFL, with former Adelaide Crow Jordan Galluci the marquee acquisition and Matthew Parker (Richmond) and Jacob Dragovich (Eaton Boomers) returning to the club.

While his playing capacity is yet to be determined, club legend Brock Higgins is expected to return to the club to fill the ruck void left by Free’s departure, with rumours also linking Peel Thunder colts premiership ruckman Jackson Broadbent with a move to Fremantle Oval.

IMAGE: The West Australian


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