In the Western Bulldogs’ search for consistency, there will be no excuses.
Even when skipper Ryan Griffen is among three players injured during a lopsided clash with AFL ladder leaders Port Adelaide.
And especially when Griffen and classy veteran Daniel Giansiracusa are among four forced omissions, paving the way for Mitch Honeychurch to debut and ex-GWS defender Sam Darley to play his first game for the ‘Dogs.
“A few outs but the exciting thing is a few ins,” Bulldogs ruckman Will Minson said of Sunday’s clash with Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.
“We’ve had some steps forward (since beating the Demons in round eight) but also some steps backward.
“It’s important we make it another step forward against Melbourne. They’re a fierce and competitive team that’s trying to develop – as we are.”
The Bulldogs were shock winners over Collingwood in round 13 – their fourth victory of the season – but followed that up with last week’s 72-point loss to the Power.
There were mitigating factors. Griffen (back), Jarrad Grant (concussion) and Jordan Roughead (shoulder) were all hurt in the game.
“We did lose players and they’re one of the best teams in the competition, but it was a really disappointing performance,” Minson said.
“We didn’t play well in the second half.
“We made a lot of errors. We have to eliminate that against Melbourne.”
Minson described 19-year-old Honeychurch, taken with pick No.60 in last year’s draft, as an “effervescent, creative and excitable character”.
“He’s always edgy. I think that’s why he’s in the side.”
As was the case when these two sides played at the MCG in 2013, the curtain raiser will be an AFL women’s exhibition match.
Minson encouraged all fans to arrive early for the opening bounce at 10.10am AEST.
“Many said (in 2013) it was a more entertaining game than the one I played in after,” he said.
Aasta O’Connor, Bulldogs captain in the curtain raiser, said both sides were keen to put on a spectacle and further the cause for all female players in Australia.
“That’s what drives a lot of us. We understand there’s a movement occurring at the moment,” O’Connor said.
The AFL wants to establish a national women’s competition by 2020.