Western Bulldogs star midfielder Marcus Bontempelli says that the club’s superb end of season form that led to their emphatic drought-breaking 2016 premiership sets a standard that has frustrated them this year.
The reigning premiers currently sit in seventh place on the ladder with 11 wins, however their 48 point loss to the GWS Giants on Friday night could see them fall out of the eight at the completion of Round 21.
With the Dogs still to face likely finals participant Port Adelaide and a Hawthorn side farewelling club legend Luke Hodge in the final two weeks of the home and away season, there is no guarantee they will avoid becoming the first premiership side to miss the finals the next year since the Hawks in 2009.
Bontempelli says that no matter how hard the Dogs have tried, they have failed to reach the same level as their final month of football in 2016, a frustration for them despite the knowledge they are still developing as a side.
“For all of us it is frustrating. We have set ourselves a standard,” the 21-year-old told SEN’s Crunch Time.
“We weren’t the best team all year last year. We still had periods of growth and setbacks and I guess that’s what made the difference at times, that we were able to find our way back from those positions at times.
“If you isolate it, that’s probably the hardest thing in football, to reincarnate those four weeks for us.
“That’s probably where it’s at for us. We’ve compared too much to that four weeks of trying to get it exactly right. That’s where the frustration comes, that understanding that we still have a lot of growth as a team and despite that finals series, we have a long way to go in terms of achieving what we want.”
Bontempelli however says that the knowledge the Dogs still have a lot of upside to come is positively reinforcing the Dogs players to keep pushing towards securing a place in September.
“That gives you a bit of perspective at times, we still have growth as a team, even as individuals both on and off-the-field, there’s a long way for us to go to be a team that consistently backs up,” he said.
“There’s frustration at times, but the positivity is always at the forefront and we have to continue the surge forward and continue to make the most of every minute.”