The Western Bulldogs plan to put Greater Western Sydney under intense physical pressure, but are adamant they aren’t feeling any pressure of their own after their poor run in previous AFL preliminary finals.
The Bulldogs arrived in Sydney on Friday and are determined to maintain the momentum that carried them to victories over West Coast and Hawthorn in the past two weeks.
The damning statistic of losing their past seven preliminary finals doesn’t appear to be weighing heavily on the latest generation of Bulldogs as they prepare for Saturday’s clash at Spotless Stadium.
“We haven’t really talked about it,” Bulldogs assistant coach Daniel Giansiracusa said at Sydney Airport.
“It’s a young group. It’s a different group.
“I read some comments from Libba (Tom Liberatore), and if there’s anyone that knows about the (Bulldogs) history, it’s Libba.
“He was more worried about his nonna and the Thursday night dinner, so I think we’ll take it like Libba does and look forward to the challenge tomorrow night.
“They are a pretty relaxed group.”
Giansiracusa was convinced 20-year-old Marcus Bontempelli could handle the expectations swirling around the young Bulldogs star.
“I think it’s the youth of today … They just go out and play,” Giansiracusa said.
“He’s someone that’s targeted, but he just takes it on the chin and does the best he can for the side.
“It’s not just about winning the ball for him. He’s a fantastic leader for us and I’m glad he’s in our side.”
Giansiracusa made no secret the Bulldogs’ strategy would revolve around denying the Giants the possession and space they needed to play their fast-flowing brand of football
“Once they get up and going they can move the footy as quickly as anyone, so we’re going to have to stop that,” he said.
“We’re going to have to put them under immense pressure, which we’ve been able to do to the opposition the last couple of weeks.”
He was hopeful defender Matthew Suckling, who’ll miss Saturday’s game due to an achilles problem, would be fit to play if the Bulldogs made the grand final.
“I would have thought (he’s a chance). It’s a week-to-week thing but he was pretty close (to playing this week),” Giansiracusa said.
“He was a little bit sore and he didn’t get through training.”