Bulldogs not dwelling on the past in quest for glory

COVID was not the friend of the Western Bulldogs in AFLW Season 6, causing a number of disruptions to their campaign.

But despite what might have been if those disruptions had not happened, Bulldogs’ assistant coach Melissa Hickey is certainly not dwelling on the past.

“I guess you can only really play with the cards you’re dealt, and no doubt we were impacted with that Giants game and maybe if we had one that one that might have helped us through, but I guess it’s not that helpful to go back and think we could have (made finals),” she said.

“Obviously we landed where we were meant to be and in some ways it’s been good for the girls as a group to understand I think that we can mix it with the best, but you know you’ve got to be consistent across a whole season to really make finals and press further into finals as well.”

Hickey said that this preseason has been quite different to last season’s for the Bulldogs.

“We’ve had to adjust to training in the winter again, it’s kind of a return to what it was always like for everyone I guess, but I think particularly comparing to last season we had just so many disruptions with Covid and close contacts and things, so this has felt a lot more smooth and we’ve been able to really influence some really cool different things as well which is great.”

There have been quite a number of changes during the offseason at the Western Bulldogs.

On the question of how the Bulldogs were going to fill the gap left by the likes of Brooke Lochland and Bonnie Toogood, Hickey laughed and noted “it’s funny, you know footy clubs, we sort of just roll on.”

“You feel like this big, gaping hole is a big thing we have to cover, but I guess you naturally use the skill and the strengths of your group. We’re not going to have as many big, leading, hit up forwards, but it probably allows us to kind use our speed and our smaller forwards, and maybe play a little bit differently because of that.

“You look at the teams like Richmond and their mosquito fleet, I guess you kind of have to play to your strengths, so I think you’ll see a little bit of a different style of how we play and how we bring the ball inside 50, which is an exciting change up I think because even though we had them last season, I don’t necessarily know that we used them.

“I mean, we obviously didn’t have Izzy [Huntington], but Brooke and Bonnie up forward, I’m not sure we necessarily used them to our best ability, so I think the way that we’re looking to bring the ball inside 50 and the way that they’re positioning is going to hopefully mean that’ll we’ll score more and the ball will sort of stay in the 50 longer as well.”

A couple of the new faces to the Bulldogs this season are Millie Brown and Daisy Bateman. Hickey says they have both settled in very well and are going to provide a great impact for the Bulldogs this season.

“Obviously I’ve had a bit of experience with Millie having played with her down at the Cats, and I was so pumped when I heard we were chatting to her, and the potential was that she was going to come to us,” she said.

“She’s slotted in really, really well into the backline group, and obviously having Ashleigh Guest leave and Ellyse Gamble and Hannah Scott, there has been a role there to come in and play. Obviously she’ll take a little while, she hasn’t played footy for a bit, to get her confidence back, but from what I’ve seen from the start of preseason to more recent, she’s not far off cracking in and starting to get back to the footy she was playing before she was on her break.

“It’s been awesome to reconnect with her and I guess I’ve only really observed Daisy from an opposition point of view but she’s just so clever and crafty, you know as that sort of small forward and you know she’s got a really high footy IQ and she’s not afraid to bring that to the group and speak up which has been really pleasing to see from a new player to the club.”  

The goal for the season is pretty clear at the Bulldogs. With the club setting a target of two flags by 2025, the hope for the Bulldogs for Season 7, like many other clubs, is to make finals.  

They have a practise match coming up this weekend against GWS, and Hickey said that their ball movement and testing out a few different combinations are two of the key aims for the hitout.

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