Western Bulldogs captain Bob Murphy says his side is wary of Gary Ablett’s undeniable influence on his Gold Coast teammates ahead of Saturday’s AFL clash in Cairns.
Ablett made his return from a shoulder injury in the Suns’ win over North Melbourne last week, and the two-time Brownlow medallist picked up right where he left off with a dominant display as the rest of the team fed of his energy.
The 31-year-old’s shoulder troubles originally began around this time last year, with his season-ending dislocation coming the week before Gold Coast’s annual game in Cairns.
The Suns struggled without him and were beaten by 28 points, but Murphy knows it won’t be so easy this time around.
“We know they’ve got highly skilled players and a bloke named Gary, so we’ll have our hands full,” Murphy told reporters on Friday after the Bulldogs trained at Cazalys Stadium.
“If he’s not the best player in the comp he’s close to (it).
“They got some momentum last week and beat a good side in North Melbourne.
“We’re expecting them to come out and run hard.”
The Bulldogs are seventh on the ladder after wins in their last three outings – although they’ve been less than impressive over the last fortnight, dragging their feet on the way to wins against lowly St Kilda and Carlton.
They go into Saturday’s match as slight favourites over the Suns, who came off the bottom of the ladder after beating the Kangaroos.
“We haven’t played scintillating footy but we’ve still been able to put the points in the bank,” Murphy said.
“We’re not too picky how we get them these days after the last few years.”
Murphy said he had good memories of the team’s last visit to far north Queensland.
“I remember in a tough year it was a pretty good night,” he said.
“I remember the locals were pretty loud – I’m not sure what the crowd numbers were but it sounded like it was triple that.”