Western Bulldogs star Marcus Bontempelli will play his 50th AFL game this weekend and coach Luke Beveridge struggles to think of many better half-centuries.
Bontempelli, the No.4 pick at the 2013 draft, has taken his game to a new level this season.
And Beveridge is hoping for more magic from “The Bont” when the Bulldogs take on Geelong in a mouth-watering clash of top-four hopefuls at Etihad Stadium on Saturday night.
“It’s got to be up there with some of the best,” Beveridge said of the 20-year-old’s career to date.
“We’ve got some momentum recently and Marcus has been imperative and a key player in that.
“We’ve all spoken about what kind of person he is and he’s become an exceptional player. He’s become a match winner, along with the other mids he’s working with and hopefully we get his best on Saturday night.”
The fourth-placed Bulldogs have impressed on their way to a 9-3 record and are behind the Cats, currently second, on percentage only.
The Bulldogs regained key defender Marcus Adams, who looks a likely opponent for Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins and recalled midfielder Lin Jong for the tantalising encounter.
Hawkins is back after serving his contentious one-match ban for striking Greater Western Sydney’s Phil Davis, with Darcy Lang omitted.
The Dogs will be trying to snap a run of losses against the Cats, having failed to come away with the points in their past eight attempts – their last win coming in round 21, 2009.
“I try to talk about more recent history, things that the core of our group have been involved in, so we haven’t spoken about that,” Beveridge said.
“It doesn’t really matter to us too much … the one that does is probably when they beat us last year.
“We recognise and understand how good the Cats are … how experienced they are and how they’ve beaten some very good sides this year.”