AFL

Western Bulldogs' premiership drought drives Luke Dahlhaus

Luke Dahlhaus likes that the Western Bulldogs are a little bit different.

He says he would do just about anything for the traditionally working-class club, often deemed everyone's second-favourite team, after they took a chance on him in the 2011 rookie draft.

Luke Dahlhaus on Main Street at Sovereign Hill.
Luke Dahlhaus on Main Street at Sovereign Hill. Photo: Luka Kauzlaric

The quick-thinking small forward had a particularly good year in 2015, playing in all 23 matches including the Dogs' preliminary final loss to Adelaide.

The fact their one and only premiership was won long before Dahlhaus was born makes the prospect of taking a cup back to Footscray all the more tantalising.

Bailey Dale, Dahlhaus and confectioner Ben Bignell make raspberry drops.
Bailey Dale, Dahlhaus and confectioner Ben Bignell make raspberry drops. Photo: Luka Kauzlaric

"We've got our own identity, it's definitely got a community vibe, and it's the history," he said. "To have that goal in front of you, to get that second premiership, to get that success in the club that we haven't had for so long, it just makes it very unique."

Dahlhaus said bowing out of the finals so quickly after an unexpectedly good season had left Bulldogs players broken-hearted, but also made them more determined in 2016.

"It burns in the gut, but it's something that makes you want to train harder and do everything better to just get there again," he said.

The team and coaching staff spent four hours dissecting that last game play by play, discussing what worked and what had not, but they waited until after the players had enjoyed an end-of-season break.

"I think doing it straight away might have been a bit raw for the boys – they were still hurting," he said.

Dahlhaus said there was a sense of momentum around the club, evidenced by the thousands who turned out to a recent family day at Whitten Oval.

Despite there now being greater pressure on the team to perform, coach Luke Beveridge had continued encouraging players to have a go, backing effort over perfectionism, Dahlhaus said.

The make-up of their forward line has become the subject of particular interest in the lead-up to the NAB Challenge, particularly after former Bombers full forward Stewart Crameri was suspended for the season for his participation in Essendon's notorious 2012 supplements program.

Dahlhaus said he had spent his own pre-season working on his left-footed kicks and left-handed handballs, to become a more highly skilled player.

Despite speculation that talls Tom Boyd and Jack Redpath had become an either/or proposition for Beveridge, Dahlhaus said the pair worked well together.

"They look like a pretty dangerous duo and they're both absolute stars, what they can do at training," he said.

Dahlhaus was at Sovereign Hill in Ballarat on Wednesday, as part of the Bulldogs' bid to expand their supporter base into the western region of Victoria.

The tourist attraction is a junior partner of the Dogs, and Dahlhaus said being there brought back memories of a grade-five school trip.

"I've got some raspberry drops now and they taste exactly the same, so I'm having a great time," he said.