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  • Writer's pictureJosh Kempton

Curley contract call an easy one: Burke

South Fremantle head of football Charlie Burke says extending league coach Todd Curley into a tenth season at the helm was an easy decision.

The Bulldogs announced yesterday that the 2020 premiership-winning mentor had signed on for the 2024 WAFL season, which will see him surpass Clive Lewington as the club’s longest-serving coach.

Burke told Sports Breakfast the club was delighted Curley would be sticking around.

“I think it’s a big decision for both parties. If we asked Todd Curley at the start of the year whether he wanted to go around into a tenth season, he was probably 50-50,” Burke said.

“To work through the difficulties we’ve had this season and come through the other side and have Todd commit to his tenth season is really exciting.

“Really delighted for Todd, but really delighted for the club and the player group.”

The Bulldogs will miss the finals for just the second time in Curley’s tenure this year, with their 5-9 campaign featuring several close defeats and the imposition of an eight premiership point penalty for salary cap breaches in the 2021 season, but Burke said the club’s win-loss record this season did not have any influence over the decision.

“We were thrown a lot of curveballs this season, not just the salary cap breach,” he said.

“The amount of injuries we’ve had this year, we’ve had three or four games this year where we’ve lost a key player before half time and I think we’ve got five players currently on the season-ending injury list.

“The big factor in the decision really for Todd to go around again is the relationships he’s got with our players. He’s been able to get the best out of our player group, particularly the young guys.

“The fact that Todd’s still energised and has the motivation to go around again is a major factor in it as well. Very much a two-way street, we had plenty of discussions leading up to yesterday’s announcement.”

Several young guns including Chase Bourne, Roan O’Heihr, and Toby Dodds have sealed places in the Bulldogs’ lineup this season, with Burke saying the football department had been happily surprised by how quickly the younger players had taken to league football.

“I don’t think Todd would mind me saying that there were two things that really factored into Todd’s decision to go around again. One of them was the fact that … just the way the season’s gone about, he didn’t want to end on that note,” he said.

“Todd’s really excited about what we’ve got in the years ahead and bringing these young guys through.

“I think that’s a real strength of his as well, Todd has very high expectations on people and has really high standards and these young guys accept that and they’re wanting to improve and get better.”

Burke also confirmed veterans Brandon Ah Chee and Brock Higgins, who have spent large portions of the year battling injuries, had not yet made final decisions on their playing futures.



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