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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Wherever the dogs are playing
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    A teenage premiership, then what?


    The Western Bulldogs waited 62 years for a premiership. Zaine Cordy waited 11 games. The Bulldogs didn’t take their flag for granted. Nor did Cordy, but a premiership player at 19, he didn’t have a great deal of football hardship with which to compare the experience, even coming from a famous Bulldogs family - his father, two uncles and older brother having all played for the club.

    However, by early this year, Cordy was getting a dose of the harsh realities of the game.

    Still only 21, he had graduated from being the least experienced member of the 2016 premiership team, in which he played an unlikely role as a key forward, to a player who others were suddenly looking up to, and not just because he stands at 193 centimetres.

    The Dogs had become one of the youngest teams in the competition, and Cordy evolved into something of a leader. He’s had little choice given the lengthy injury list at Whitten Oval. Last round against Geelong, there were 10 Bulldogs who had played fewer games than Cordy, who has become a mainstay. If he doesn’t miss a game for the rest of the season, he will notch 50 matches in round 23.

    “Obviously I’m not in the leadership group. But I’ve had to speak up more because the team has been so young, throughout this year,” Cordy told Fairfax Media this week.

    “I’ve taken it in my stride. But obviously there was a lot of learning to do there. Hopefully I can develop that over the next few years. It’s been a good learning curve. Trying to drive those standards and encourage the boys.”

    With Bob Murphy and Matthew Boyd having retired, Fletcher Roberts out of favour, and Dale Morris and Marcus Adams injured, Cordy had to help drive the chat in defensive 50, helping direct players such as Aaron Naughton, Bailey Williams and Ed Richards.

    It helped that he is “naturally a pretty talkative person” but it’s not always easy, especially not when fatigued, noting midfielder Lachie Hunter is particularly good at barking instructions even when sapped of energy.

    “It’s pretty difficult. Some blokes come in and they’re a bit more talkative than others. It’s just about trying to encourage them to speak up every now and then,” Cordy said.

    “It’s easy to do when things are going well. When our backs are against the ropes, that’s when you have to talk more.”
    Cordy’s growth has not just been behavioural.

    He’s put on around eight kilos since arriving at the club in the 2014 draft, giving him greater confidence against the competition’s bigger forwards.

    But so dire have things been injury-wise at The Kennel, he’s also been needed up forward, where he watched the narrow win over the Cats, one of few Dogs not standing the mark as Harry Taylor took his game-saving mark.

    Cordy said coach Luke Beveridge had tried to keep things simple with his young side this year, but that the Dogs had discussed in great depth their late-game efforts, after nearly blowing an opportunity to beat a top eight side for the second straight week, having done so against North Melbourne in round 15.

    Still, after a long second half of the season loomed at 4-8, the showings against the Roos and Cats have buoyed spirits out west, with Cordy refusing to write off the season.

    “I’m trying to drive the boys to achieve that next level, which is hopefully, maybe make the finals, if everything goes well,” he said.

    “It’s been hard to get consistency in the team. But all in all I think we’re going OK at the moment. We’ve found a bit of form the last two weeks, especially with our pressure game, and also we’re scoring heavily at the moment, which we weren’t doing at the start of the year. We’re starting to find our mojo.”

    Whatever happens for the rest of the year, though, Cordy has a different perspective on the game.
    “I’ve had a bit of a rollercoaster ride. I think early on, I didn’t quite appreciate [the premiership] as much as I should. Now looking back at it, it was a pretty surreal moment,” he said.

    “When we were 4-9 [this year], it was a hard place to be because you’re not going that well. As all football clubs are.

    “Looking back at 2016, I was thinking how amazing that was, when we’re winning most games, and then to go deep into finals. Now, when we’re not going so well, you do look back and appreciate everything that happened.”

    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    East of the West
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    Re: A teenage premiership, then what?

    I'm a big fan of Cordy. Gutsy and never cowed by a challenge.
    "It's over. It's all over."

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