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Morris says all 'Dogs must defend

Roger Vaughan 14/05/2011 02:42:07 PM Comments (0)

Dale Morris will get by with some help up the ground from his friends.

The Western Bulldogs defender has emphasised the need for team-mates to clamp down heavily on Richmond's ball use in their AFL match on Sunday at Etihad Stadium.

With the Bulldogs defence undermanned because of injuries, coach Rodney Eade said on Friday that Morris will have the pivotal job of playing on Tigers full-forward Jack Riewoldt.

The Coleman Medallist looms as a nightmare for the 'Dogs backline, while Tigers small forwards Robin Nahas and Jake King are also in solid form.

This is a massive game for the Bulldogs, who are struggling on two wins from six games.

By contrast, the Tigers are building momentum and last week they upset Fremantle in a morale-boosting win.

"It's definitely a team defence and a team role to stop him (Riewoldt), because he's their beacon up forward," Morris said.

"If you can stop Riewoldt, it goes a long way to stopping Richmond.

"In saying that, they've had a couple of smaller guys bob up because teams have solely focussed on Riewoldt and nothing else.

"So it's a balancing act, but we need pressure up the field to limit supply to their forwards."

Morris' adaptability and strong form mean he will be a solid match up for Riewoldt, but it is also a sign of how the 'Dogs are having to plug holes in their backline.

Brian Lake remains in the VFL to regain fitness and Tom Williams is out because of an ankle injury.

Easton Wood also remains on the sidelines and Ryan Hargrave is having his first game back for the season after recovering from a foot injury.

Morris noted that in last few seasons, he and Lake, Hargrave and Lindsay Gilbee had formed the nucleus of a stable back six.

"This year it's been quite a different-looking back line - in previous years it's been quite settled, at least four guys down back," he said.

"Us four have played a lot of footy together.

"The injuries have hurt the back line a bit this year, but it's enabled other guys to step into that role."

One notable inclusion has been key defender Luke Markovic.

"He's really blossomed in that full-back position and he's taken the jobs on each week," Morris said.

"He has limitations, as we all do - he's working within his limitations and doing a very good job."

But how the 'Dogs must wish they could clone Rob Murphy - one to play off half-back and the other to create scoring opportunities across half-forward.

Their injury problems have meant Murphy, arguably their most important player, has switched from one end of the ground to the other during matches.

"It would be nice (to have two Murphies), he's very dangerous when he's up forward and when he'd down back, he provides a lot of creative run," Morris said.

"His energy up forward and down back is something we need and it's that flip of the coin, where do you play him?

"I love having him there (down back) with us."

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