Tom Boyd’s atonement for his altercation with AFL teammate Zaine Cordy last month hasn’t ended even though he’s back in the Western Bulldogs team.
Boyd will line up for the Bulldogs for the first time since April in Cairns on Saturday against Gold Coast.
A six-week shoulder injury has contributed to the mega-money recruit’s stay outside the seniors but more recently it’s been the pub biff that’s held him back.
Now returned to the fold, the Bulldogs hope he can turn his contrition into a contribution.
“Tom, to his credit, he’s handled himself really well. His form at VFL level has been exactly what we wanted and he’s earned his spot,” assistant coach Steven King said on Friday.
“As a club we’ve moved past (the controversy) now.
“He’s played himself in.
“We need that presence forward and in the ruck. We think he’s going to help us a lot.”
At just 20-years-old and playing in the most challenging role for emerging juniors – power forward – Boyd might normally be afforded time and patience to grow.
While the Western Bulldogs are showing those qualities – a seven-year deal means they have time on their hands – the outside world has been more ruthless.
His multi-million dollar switch from Greater Western Sydney has stuck a huge target on Boyd’s back, just 27 games and 29 goals into his career.
The Bulldogs will be hoping the less-than-bright lights of Cazaly’s Stadium in Far North Queensland can be the place where Boyd can start afresh.
Josh Dunkley joins Boyd as an inclusion with Tom Liberatore (ribs) and Lukas Webb (omitted) for the injury-struck Suns.
The well-placed Bulldogs should make short work of Gold Coast, who won’t see Gary Ablett (shoulder) or Michael Rischitelli (knee) again this season.
Jarrad Grant, Mitch Hallahan and Jesse Lonergan come in for the pair as well as Dion Prestia (knee), who is expected to be a shorter-term loss.
King said the challenge of containing the Gold Coast forward line would keep the Bulldogs busy.
“(Peter) Wright and Tommy Lynch and even (Sam) Day have been in great form marking the footy. We’ve got to stop the ball getting in there,” he said.
“We’re missing Libba and Lukey Dahlhaus as well. Not that it evens up (the absence of Ablett and Rischitelli) but we’re certainly preparing for their best.
“They can all play at the level and we’re expecting a fierce contest.”