Eade relieved key Bulldog Lake staying - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Eade relieved key Bulldog Lake staying

07/10/2009 03:57:51 PM Comments (0)

Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade says the retention of Brian Lake is far more important than the signing of Barry Hall to the AFL club's premiership aspirations.

The 27-year-old All Australian key defender has signed a four-year deal, ending protracted negotiations and ignoring strong interest from rival clubs.

It comes a day after the Bulldogs fulfilled their desire to land a quality key forward, signing former Sydney premiership co-captain Hall on a two-year deal.

But Eade said that while Hall's acquisition was something the club wanted rather than needed, they would have been in big trouble had Lake walked away.

"In the worst-case scenario we just didn't know what we were going to do in that situation, it was a big hole in the side," Eade said.

"So he was more important than anyone else, he was certainly more important than Barry.

"I think the fact that Barry's here as well gives us key strength at both ends."

But Lake, the Bulldogs' 2007 best and fairest, who will have spent 12 seasons with the club by the end of his new deal, said he never considered leaving.

He said his aim had been to get the most of what he expects to be the final contract of his career.

"My main objective was obviously to stay here and get the best contract I could possibly with the Bulldogs, there was no interest in moving," he said.

"It will take me to 31 and I'll spend the rest of my life at the Bulldogs and a one-club player ... obviously the four-year contract's going to see out my days here."

However, Eade was confident Lake could continue well beyond the four years.

Lake joked that he had needed a guarantee he would not have to face Hall - whose episodes of on-field violence ended his career with the Swans - in intraclub practice games.

"It would be appropriate for the younger guys to maybe stand Barry in the intraclub matches," he said.

"We've got a boxing coach, that's the main thing, we've got our own boxing coach, we don't need Barry doing anything like that."

Meanwhile, football manager James Fantasia acknowledged the contracts for Hall and Lake would make it harder to keep older players such as Jason Akermanis and Nathan Eagleton, who are yet to be offered new deals.

But he said it did not necessarily mean one or both would be squeezed out.

"We're flying very close to our salary cap and that does cause some issues in terms of retention and the way you go forward," Fantasia said.

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