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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Fremantle’s Joel Hamling says injuries have taken bite out of Western Bulldogs

Fremantle defender Joel Hamling believes injury is the main reason the Western Bulldogs have failed to back up their fairytale 2016 flag, ahead of a meeting with his premiership teammates on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs have won 12 of 26 games since Hamling departed after their premiership.
They missed the finals last year and sit 15th with a 1-3 record entering the annual Len Hall Game at Optus Stadium.
“If you look back at the Dogs I think they’ve missed 11 players from their premiership year,” Hamling said. “I wouldn’t say I’m surprised, I would say 11 players out of the side is a lot of players to take out.”
The 25-year-old will confront the Bulldogs for the second time since arriving back in his home State.
Fremantle produced one of the most significant wins in their history in the round three meeting between the teams last season, when a youthful outfit knocked off Luke Beveridge’s side after a week of turmoil culminated in six players being axed.
“It is always strange. I guess it’s exciting for me,” Hamling said. “It’s two years ago now I played in the grand final, but it’s always good to see the boys and actually play against them now.
“Last year we got a win which really started off our season.”
Currently 2-2, the Dockers have the chance to get ahead of the ledger with their next two games at Optus Stadium, where they are unbeaten. Saturday night’s match will be followed by the venue’s first western derby on Sunday week.
Hamling said the trip to Canberra had been a factor in last Saturday’s 31-point defeat to Greater Western Sydney.
“We started off really well the first three quarters and we faded out late,” he said.
“You could say with the travel and everything else that was involved, I think the last quarter sort of really got us.”
Controversial star Harley Bennell is closing in on yet another comeback from his crippling calf problems, after returning to main training at the club’s Cockburn headquarters yesterday morning.
Bennell moved smoothly as he completed nearly all of the 90-minute session before doing some running near the end in front of several hundred fans.
Midfielder Ed Langdon completed yesterday’s session after he was a late withdrawal from the side that lost to the Giants with illness. Langdon, who was influential in the round three win over Gold Coast with 27 disposals, appears a certain inclusion to face the Bulldogs.
But Bradley Hill (knee) has been ruled out for a third week.


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