The Western Bulldogs are determined not to let controversies ruin their AFL campaign of great promise.
Not Tom Boyd and Zaine Cordy’s biff in the pub; not Lin Jong’s trip to tour Collingwood’s training facilities; not anything else that might crop up between now and September.
And as you might expect from a side coached by Luke Beveridge, the skateboarding free spirit who has rejuvenated his club, the Bulldogs are shaking off the latest headline with a laugh.
Young gun Lachie Hunter said Beveridge addressed the group once Jong’s cross-town visit to their AFL rivals became public.
“He cracked a few jokes in the first team meeting and that aired it out,” Hunter told AAP.
“It was a bit awkward in the morning but Jongy joined in and everyone moved forward.
“Trades are a part of the game. You’d be stupid to think no one talks to other clubs. But we love Jongy and hope he can stay.”
The Boyd-Cordy dust-up is more serious, but both Boyd and the team could hardly have responded better.
Boyd kicked four goals in the VFL and the Bulldogs had a fine win at the SCG over premiership fancies Sydney.
Hunter, with experience of upsetting club management after being linked to – but cleared – of betting on a match, said he was proud of the response.
“It could have gone either way. It can either tear you apart or bring you closer,” he said.
“We approached it the right way as a club and as a team and clearly that showed on the weekend.
“I’ve been in that position before, when you’re not in the best of books with the people that are running the club and you just want to make it right.
“Those boys have gone about it well since it happened.”
It is a paradox that the Bulldogs have firmed for the flag in their fortnight of controversy.
Hunter said their last-minute win at the SCG had galvanised the club.
“When you have those wins and beat those teams, it validates that belief,” he said.
“For sure, we can win it.
“This probably is the most-open finals anyone really can remember. If the top eight finishes as is, anyone can win it if they get a run on.”