Greater Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron knows it will be near-impossible for his AFL side to keep Marcus Bontempelli quiet for the entirety of Saturday night’s preliminary final.
Bontempelli, who earned All-Australian honours this year and continues to show experience beyond his years, looms as one of Western Bulldogs’ most potent threats at Spotless Stadium.
The 20-year-old tallied 32 disposals and six clearances when the two sides met in round nine this year, with Stephen Coniglio matching up on him for most of the game.
“We’ll probably start (ruckman) Rory Lobb on him. We’ve got to fight fire with fire in terms of height,” Cameron joked on Friday.
“He’s just so unique. He’s a 193cm inside mid, they’re very hard to stop those sort of players.
“He’s Nat Fyfe-like and we’ve seen what Fyfe has been able to do.
“I don’t think you completely stop a guy like Bontempelli, we just have to make sure we nullify him when we have to but also hurt him when it’s our turn and we have the footy.”
Cameron indicated he was unlikely to employ a hard tag on Bontempelli.
“There’s no doubt (Ryan) Griffen, Coniglio and (Callan) Ward are going to have opportunities to try to stop him in the midfield,” he said.
“But in saying that they do bat really deep. (Tom) Liberatore is at the peak of his powers.”
Cameron also heaped praise on Bulldogs Jack Macrae and Luke Dahlhaus, acknowledging the midfield showdown will be crucial in deciding which club advances to the grand final.
“”They’ve got a really good midfield. We feel as those we’ve got a really good midfield as well,” he said.
“The battle will be won in the midfield. If it’s going our way more than their way, we’re going to be more of a chance to win the game.”