Off-season update

“I think taking a step back, it was important to outline the process we wanted to take and then implement any change. There was a lot of discussion around that and the board had a significant role to play in that, led strongly by our president Kylie Watson-Wheeler. Also Luke Darcy, as our football director, was heavily involved. 

“In the immediate aftermath of the season, it was an internal look at how things went. I think the fact that we failed to make finals when it looked like we would for most of the back-half of the year, and the manner in which I suppose we lost a couple of those late season games, forced us to be a lot more introspective quicker than we might otherwise have been.


“From that process, there was obviously a lot of personnel change – some of which we initiated and some of which happened organically through that time of year with people departing to other places. What you’re confronted with in that moment is just filling those gaps. In an incredibly competitive environment, you don’t have the luxury of waiting to get all of your ducks in a row – you need to go to market and get the best people you think can fulfil the roles you need.

“That was really the first tranche of what we did and obviously everyone then goes on their break. It's an extended break after really long year and the discussion that continued around the board table and certainly with Kylie was the need to take a look at the off-field component of what we do and in particular things like structure, process, culture and environment, and bring in someone with an independent view who is experienced in in all of those areas. Peter Jackson was our person.

Player leadership

“We know the strength of the leadership of certain players within (the group), and obviously Marcus is a standout and continues to get recognised by his peers accordingly. Others like Tom Liberatore and his elevation to vice-captain, which is an outstanding story for him as well, is also a reflection of the growth that he's had in his leadership. Through the process of the offseason, he was also a very strong voice.

Tom Liberatore has returned to the Club's leadership group for the first time since 2015 (Photo: Western Bulldogs).

2024 expectations

“I guess none of us will really know until those games commence, but we feel really positive about the direction we're headed.

“We know we need to improve, and for us improvement necessarily means playing finals as the first step of that, given we missed out last year. We know we're capable of that and I guess that's why we were so disappointed at the end of last year.

“That's absolutely the focus – to play finals and to go as deeply as we can – but I think some of the lessons we've learned around that is to really just focus on the more immediate future as well and just control what we can in the short term.

“I think we got a really capable list. I’m not going to be drawn this year into making prognostications specifically on what that looks like, but as history has shown, once you get into the finals and get on a roll, that's when you give yourself the best opportunity. For us, really given the way last year finished, we just need to make the eight and go from there.”

Reaching 40k members in record time

“We surpassed 40,000 members last week, which is in the quickest time that we've done. It’s great, and we’re very grateful to the members who jumped on board early. We’re next targeting to push through 60,000 for the first time, so are on track for that but really need the push to come from here.

“It’s exceptional given the growth of the club over the last few years, but really a reflection of the strength of our fan-base as well who have obviously enjoyed some good times in the last decade but has also been a bit of a rollercoaster at times.

“I think one of the positive things about the fan-base agitating is that they care, and from that care comes the investment and the passion. I think that's what we've found. You know we've been rightly challenged at different times by our fans, but they’ve still stuck by us in a membership sense which we're really grateful for.”


Pre-season games

“We will play Hawthorn on Friday in effectively an elongated match simulation, and then the official pre-season game Saturday week in Launceston. I think the club will take a different approach to both games -  the first game, as you will have already seen from the Melbourne-Richmond game, is played across a number of periods to ensure that all of your players get a run. It'll be a bit more fluid, and then the game in Launceston will be a genuine hit-out for Round 1.”

Injury update

“Yeah it's been pretty good. A few niggles here - I think the most significant was Jack Macrae who's obviously had some hamstring tightness. He’s touch and go for this week - he probably doesn't get up - but outside of a few niggles and a couple of longer rehab players like Riley Garcia coming back from shoulder surgery we've been pretty good, touch-wood.”

Contract discussions

“We’ll continue to navigate them. I think our primary want has been to support Bailey obviously through the rehab and the first few weeks and months. The most challenging part of that is particularly once games start playing and you obviously have the sense of missing out, but I know Sam Power is in regular contact with Paul Connors around that. We’d obviously love Bailey to stay.

“Tim had a terrific breakout year last year and was All Australian, and Jamarra's trajectory continues to rise. So again, Sam's been pretty busy in those conversations with Andrew McDougall on Tim and Robbie D’Orazio on Jamarra, but both have indicated they want to stay. That's the starting point - we just need to get contracts done now.”

AFLW head coach appointment

“We had a really underwhelming AFLW season- there were different factors for that. Obviously, some injuries where we couldn't field a team of listed players in the last two to three games, but even prior that our performances weren't great, so a significant amount of change was made.

“Three of the four full-time roles in our women's program were changed, so that process has been very extensive. There was a little bit of early pressure to try and get some of those roles filled pre-Christmas which would have really truncated running a proper and thorough process as well. We're taking our time a bit to make sure that we could fully canvas all the different candidates and get the person that we really wanted. We’re thrilled to have landed Tamara.”