Western Bulldogs head coach Nathan Burke says he was pleased with his side’s ability to readjust their game-plan during Saturday night’s opening round loss to Melbourne.

Despite a slow first half which led Melbourne to take a 23-point lead into the main break, Burke said he was impressed with how his Bulldogs reset after half-time.

“We just didn’t play the type of football we wanted to play (at the start) – but the good thing was that we were able to change that,” Burke told media post-match.

“I would’ve been really disappointed if the way we started was the way we continued, so the fact that we were brave enough to say ‘no, that’s not us’, and change that and play a different way pleased me.

“There were glimpses of how we want to play the game that actually worked, and so my message to the players is one, we have to learn how to start better; two, we can change things when we’re not playing well, which will happen again; and three, when we play our style of football, it works and stacks up against a really good side in Melbourne.”


Burke was full of praise for off-season recruits and club debutants Elle Bennetts and Richelle Cranston, and for captain Ellie Blackburn.

“Elle was a bit of a barometer for our team – she probably started a bit slow, but as she got into the game and into the positions we want our midfielders to get to, I think it gave the others a bit of confidence,” he said.

“I thought Rocky was outstanding. You only get one chance to set the impression with your new teammates, and I think she did that through what she sacrificed for the team.

“Ellie – like Elle – was probably quiet to start with, but she’s got guts and will leave nothing on the table. She will give everything she’s got, and that’s why she’s an amazing player and amazing captain.”

Burke also provided an update on much-loved star forward Isabel Huntington, who limped off the ground midway through the second quarter.

“Nothing confirmed yet, but it’s obviously a right leg injury. Your mind starts to wonder to different things as she has a history of knee injuries, but we’ll just have to wait and see and keep our fingers crossed,” he said.

“There’s a bunch of players who’ve just gotten to know Izzy and love her, and then there’s a bunch of players who have been with her right from the start and through those issues.

“There’s different reasons for the sympathy, but they’ll obviously gather around her whatever comes of it and support her to the hilt.”