Western Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli has praised first-year player Sam Darcy for his impact thus far.
Only three games into his AFL career, Darcy has strung together some impressive performances across both the back and forward line, including a two-goal and 13-disposal output against Hawthorn.
“He’s been super impressive – clearly when he first came to us, he had some injury issues that he had to manage, but we took a really long-term view with Sam,” Bontempelli told media on Friday morning.
“He had missed a fair bit of footy over the previous year or so, so really had to build back up from ground zero. Now he’s built the strength and built the endurance he needs to play and cope at this level.
“He’s played a fair bit down back initially, but with players who are that talented they just find a way to excel in certain areas.
“Obviously he flipped forward in the Hawthorn game and had a big impact. We’re super impressed with how he’s going, but he’s still a young player who is learning how to play our game.
“So far, we couldn’t be happier with how he’s tracking.”
The Bulldogs will meet Fremantle in an Elimination Final at Optus Stadium next weekend, with tickets for the match already exhausted.
Bontempelli said the group couldn’t be more excited for the challenge.
“It’s exciting – this is the time of the year that everyone wants to be playing, and we’re fortunate enough to be there based on the circumstances,” he said.
“Our boys are looking forward to making the trip and playing in front of a big crowd.
“It’s helpful having the recent experience against Fremantle, and probably having a look at how they played us.
“Ultimately if they choose to do something similar, we’ll have some plans in place but once again, sometimes finals play out differently to your regular home-and-away games.
“We’ve got a relatively experienced group when it comes to finals football, so we can back that in to know what to expect and what to prepare for.”
The first bounce of the Dockers-Dogs Elimination Final will be at 8.10pm AEST (6.10pm AWST) on Saturday 3 September.