AFL Grand Final: Western Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli says hectic travel schedule bonded team

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Catherine HealeyThe West Australian
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Marcus Bontempelli believes the club’s heavy travel schedule has bonded the players.
Camera IconMarcus Bontempelli believes the club’s heavy travel schedule has bonded the players. Credit: Dylan Burns/AFL Photos/AFL Photos via Getty Images

Bulldogs skipper Marcus Bontempelli has dismissed any concerns over his club’s torrid finals travel schedule, believing the time spent together has brought the team closer.

The Western Bulldogs have travelled almost 10,000km this finals series, after finishing outside the top four and having to win three-straight away games to reach today’s AFL Grand Final.

Melbourne, by contrast, have travelled just over 3000km after basing themselves in Perth following their week one victory over Brisbane in Adelaide.

Despite the heavy flight schedule, which included trips to Tasmania, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, the Bulldogs captain says the journey has only strengthened the club.


“It’s probably the one we needed to give ourselves the best chance to play in the big one, having not really played the last month of the season anywhere near what we were capable of,” he said on 9.

Bulldogs players interact at training.
Camera IconBulldogs players interact at training. Credit: Simon Santi/The West Australian

“It felt like the best thing for us was to play as much as we can and get on the road together.

“It certainly feels like it’s been a good preparation for us.

“It does feel like it was definitely something we needed.”

While Melbourne is aiming to end a 57-year premiership drought, the Dogs are aiming to capture their second piece of silverware in 67 years, following on from the 2016 success.

FoxFooty’s David King said there was something special brewing at the kennel, and predicted a long-running period of success for the club – regardless of Saturday’s result.

“You would look at the way they’ve drafted the last couple of years and think there’s a couple more to come. There’s a dynasty available here,” King said.

“Given we haven’t seen (much of number one draft pick) Jamarra Ugle-Hagan and (2021 AFL Draft father-son prospect) Sam Darcy is the boom recruit that’s going to come at the end of this campaign, so they’ve got some high-level talent that are going to only make them better.

“(It’s) forward of centre, which we haven’t really said about the Dogs for years.”

The Bulldogs regain Cody Weightman for the grand final.
Camera IconThe Bulldogs regain Cody Weightman for the grand final. Credit: Jono Searle/AFL Photos/Getty Images via AFL Photos

Bontempelli, who secured his first premiership as a 21-year-old, said there was a “different feel” to today’s decider.

“It does feel special,” he said.

The Bulldogs have dropped Ryan Gardner and Laitham Vandermeer for today’s clash, with Cody Weightman and Alex Keath making their return from injury.

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