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Skipper’s silver lining to injuries

Western Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli says it’s been great to see players step up in the absence of others to injury this season.

Western Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli says it’s been great to see players step up in the absence of others to injury this season.

The second-placed Bulldogs have used 41 of a possible 43 players in 2021 – the most in the league – and handed six players their debuts. 

And while the Dogs are now starting to welcome back some key personnel, Bontempelli said it’s been exciting to watch some emerging players make the most of their time at AFL level.

“We’ve had some injuries to key players across the season, which has provided opportunities for others to get a taste, and an opportunity to step up and fill a position,” Bontempelli told SEN 1116 on Monday morning.

“We’re probably still getting to the point where we’re absolutely settled.

“But to see young players like Riley Garcia, Cody Weightman – obviously Jamarra’s played the last couple of weeks – for them to get an opportunity to play, and almost put themselves in a position to be there over the next couple of weeks and try and cement a spot, it’s a good thing… to keep things healthy and keep things competitive.

“Opportunities are there for players to definitely put their best foot forward and play some good footy, and see where things fall.”

In just his second season as captain, Bontempelli said one of the most enjoyable parts about being a leader is the chance to help his peers become the best players they can be.

“It’s only been a short time (for me) as skipper, but you do learn different ways of being able to manage your time and help support others more effectively,” the 25-year-old said.

“Your opportunity to influence is definitely the number one thing, or the part I feel most lucky about – to help others hopefully take their game to new levels, and help them explore parts of their game that they weren’t quite considering.

“That’s the opportunity you get as an older player who has played a little bit of time in the league – you can really help the younger ones or players who are starting their journey progress their football and their careers. “

“It’s a really positive aspect of being a leader at the football club.”

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