Bulldogs loving the big stage: Eade - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bulldogs loving the big stage: Eade

By Sam Lienert 18/06/2008 07:14:18 PM Comments (0)

Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade says his charges are revelling in the spotlight afforded by their great start to the AFL season.

After a tough past month, which has included impressive wins over second-placed Hawthorn and seventh-placed Brisbane, the Bulldogs face another huge game against likely finalists Collingwood at Telstra Dome on Sunday.

While Magpies coach Mick Malthouse recently complained about the mental toll taken by playing one blockbuster after another, Eade said his players lapped up any chance to play pressure games on a big stage.

"I think they look forward to them," Eade said on Wednesday.

"I think you can tell the, not anxiety levels, but certainly I think their eagerness to get involved in those games.

"Certainly last week was a big build-up for us and the other games we've played teams that are near the top have been great for us."

Eade said players' reputations could be enhanced or damaged in big games, but most of the Bulldogs had already proved to him they had the right temperament.

"We've spoken about that when we've played at the MCG and we've played some big games against better teams and I think our players acquitted themselves very well," he said.

"So from that aspect most of the players look forward to it and they seem to respond pretty well."

The Bulldogs' depth of running players helped them to convincing wins in both of their past two meetings against Collingwood, an elimination final in 2006 and their round-eight clash last season.

Further strengthening the odds in the Bulldogs' favour on Sunday is the expected absence of Collingwood's regular key forwards Anthony Rocca (ankle) and Travis Cloke (suspended).

It is an interesting twist, given the biggest weakness in the Bulldogs' structure has generally been seen as their reliance on small forwards to kick goals.

Eade said the Magpies had a lot of small forwards in dangerous form, such as Paul Medhurst, Dale Thomas, Alan Didak and Leon Davis.

But the likely lack of size in attack for Collingwood could prompt him to test the Magpies' backline by moving tall defenders Brian Lake and Tom Williams into attack.

"Both Tom and Brian can play forward, Tom can play on a small as well, so I think we've just got to wait to see who actually lines up," he said.

Eade said the `Dogs could expect to face Collingwood at their most ferocious after last weekend's loss to arch-rivals Carlton.

"They'll be smarting from last week, there's no doubt," he said.

"I think they proved themselves against Geelong, what they can do, so it will be a big game for us and it will be a big crowd, so we're looking forward to it."

The Bulldogs will probably go in with an unchanged side.

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