Watch Geelong champion Jimmy Bartel and learn: that is the message from new Western Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney to his players.
McCartney, who was an assistant coach at Geelong for 11 years, made his group watch vision of Bartel, the Brownlow Medallist who produced another standout performance on Monday against Hawthorn.
The Bulldogs have started the season with two losses but McCartney’s idea has been adopted by the team, who are convinced they will learn and improve.
Midfielder Shaun Higgins supported the move to model themselves on Bartel and other Geelong stars.
“We’ve seen a little bit of vision over the pre-season of the way we would like to be seen to be playing [our football] in the future, and Jimmy Bartel has shown the way in big games to go about it,” Higgins told SEN.
“There were a couple of clips we saw of him, but not just him – there were more Geelong players. [They’re] the benchmark of the competition.
“We’ve sat down and had a good look at that and hopefully the younger players, and all of us, can learn a little bit from that.”
One lesson Higgins said he learned from Monday’s Geelong-Hawthorn clash was that the Cats always believed in themselves, even when the game appeared lost.
“[Just] the ability for Geelong to win those close games and always stay in the contest and find a way,” Higgins said.
“Teams have done it against us and we’d like to get to the stage where we’re that side doing it to other teams.
“And with the things we’ve put in place with ‘Macca’, the boys have got full confidence that we’ll get there eventually.”
After their demolition by West Coast, Higgins said an improved performance against Adelaide had given the Bulldogs the belief they can make another step when they face St Kilda at Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
Higgins said there was no doubt that St Kilda could be caught napping after their 92-point victory over Gold Coast last Sunday.
“They’ve been around long enough to know not to get sucked in by that,” Higgins said.