Western Bulldogs winger Lachie Hunter believes criticism of teammate Adam Treloar is short-sighted, after the Dogs recruit put in a quiet performance in their Semi-Final win over Brisbane.
The 28-year-old won only 10 disposals against the Lions, just two of which were kicks, and came under fire for his evident frustration on the field.
His teammates are confident he will bounce back in Saturday night's preliminary final against Port Adelaide, however.
“It was pretty harsh,” Hunter told SEN Breakfast on Friday morning.
“People can be quick to forget how good he was at the start of the year, how good he was in the first final.
“It probably wasn’t his best game on the weekend, Ads would know that, but he’s a bloody good player and we know what he can do.
“I’m sure we’ll see that first-hand this weekend.”
Treloar was influential in the Dogs’ Elimination Final win over Essendon, recording 28 possessions, five tackles and five inside 50s.
His poor performance in the Semi-Final was picked apart on Monday morning, however.
“I thought his body language was as poor as I’ve seen from a player in a final,” Kane Cornes told SEN Breakfast.
“I don’t know whether he’s cracked it because he’s playing forward, and he wants to be playing midfield, but he’s got a premiership to win here.”
Tim Watson believes the Dogs’ No. 1 may still be haunted by the syndesmosis injury he suffered in May, despite having returned to the team in Round 21.
“He lacks spark. He’s missed a lot of footy, and coming back for the first game can sometimes be easier than backing up and backing up,” Watson explained.
“(The Bulldogs) have to find the right button to push this week, because what they recruited him for is what they need him to produce this weekend.”
David King similarly speculated the former Giant and Magpie doesn’t feel prepared to deploy the dare and acceleration that made him one of the game’s premium inside-outside midfielders.
“I’m finding it really difficult to work out whether Adam Treloar’s two kick game is a result of where they’re playing him, or the fact he does not trust his body one bit,” he told SEN’s Whateley.
“He doesn’t look to me like he’s allowing himself to explode. Even when he’s around the footy, he’s going at 80 per cent.”
Over the opening six rounds, before Stefan Martin and Josh Dunkley succumbed to injuries, Treloar averaged 26.6 disposals, 5.6 inside 50s, 4.3 tackles and four clearances.
“I haven’t seen him explode defensively to run someone down, I haven’t seen him explode with the footy in hand out of traffic, which we saw for the first six weeks,” King continued.
“That’s his trademark. If he doesn’t do that, he is a sub-par AFL player.
“He had 10 disposals. Two kicks, eight handballs. I don’t want him handballing, he’s a kicker. Two kicks is a disaster.
“He has to trust his body. I don’t think the trust is there.”
The most stinging criticism came from Herald Sun reporter Scott Gullan on Wednesday.
He wrote that Treloar had “provided ammunition to many at his former club,” despite the Magpies’ obligation to cover a third of his salary through to the end of 2025.
Gullan went on to declare he was “distracted, disinterested, confused, sad and helpless,” against the Lions, in spite of his 18 pressure acts and five tackles on the night.
It appears his courage in coming forth about his mental health struggles has been weaponised against him, and projected onto fluctuations in his form.
Veteran ruckman Martin is back for his eighth game of the season, and skipper Marcus Bontempelli may rest forward at times after pulling up sore from the Brisbane game.
Consequently, Treloar will have the opportunity to test his limits, channel his emotions in a positive way, and be a disruptor for the Dogs with a Grand Final berth on the line.
Saturday night's match, the first between the Bulldogs and the Power in a final, will bounce down at 7:40pm AEST at the Adelaide Oval.