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Strength in numbers

February 14, 2017 10:31 AM

AFL 2017 Media - Western Bulldogs Team Photo Day

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 7: Tom Liberatore of the Bulldogs looks on during the Western Bulldogs team photo day at the VU Whitten Oval on February 7, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Justine Walker/AFL Media)

History says a bad run of injuries can break a team’s season, but the Bulldogs bucked that trend last year and Tom Liberatore thinks he knows why.

According to Champion Data, the Bulldogs sat behind only Fremantle in 2016 when it came to the ‘injury cost’.

The AFL’s official number cruncher defined each Club’s best 22 based on AFL Player Ratings points, and on that score the Dogs lost 165 games to injury, the highest number in the competition.

Overall, the Dogs total injury cost was 428 ranking points, 261 behind Fremantle and marginally ahead of the Brisbane Lions.

Liberatore was one of those players, missing five games, including an ankle injury suffered against Geelong in round 19 that threatened to keep him out of the finals series, but the 24-year-old found a way, playing a key role in the Dogs’ late season run.

“It’s just about building determination around your teammates, I think that’s the biggest thing for me and a team like us, he told The Border Mail during an Australia Post Community Camp visit to Corowa.

“We get around each other, the team chemistry and the mateship that we have allows you to pull through individually.  So, stick to your teammates, hang tough, and you’ll be right.”

Liberatore was one of 13 Bulldogs players Champion Data rated as ‘above average’ for season 2016 – players ranked in the top 35% of their position, while the average of the top seven teams is 7.6.