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  1. #1
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    Caleb Daniel might be a big kid at heart but he has arrived as a leader as well as a star defender at the Western B

    Caleb Daniel might be a big kid at heart but he has arrived as a leader as well as a star defender at the Western Bulldogs



    Forget the helmets and height charts. There is much more to Caleb Daniel. He opens up to Reece Homfray about quirky tattoos, when Bevo goes into ‘classic father’ mode and why some of his elite kicks are just him ‘crapping himself’.

    Caleb Daniel has a butterfly tattooed on one forearm and a panther on the other which he describes as “a bit of fun and all that jazz”.

    “And there’s one that’s hidden away, that’s probably the more significant one,” he says.

    So can we ask what it is?

    “It’s Batman,” he replies with a laugh.

    “I used to love him as a kid and it reminds me of when I was young, just so I go out there and not be too serious and enjoy life.

    “Just be a normal kid and enjoy myself.”

    Daniel might be a big kid at heart but at 24, with a premiership medal and about to play his 100th game on Wednesday night, there is so much more to the Western Bulldogs defender than helmets and height charts which is the storyline that’s followed him ever since he was drafted with Pick No. 46 in 2014.

    “I’m obviously incredibly proud and grateful that I’ve been able to play so many games and still be relatively young,” he said.

    “I think I was 20 at the time (of the 2016 flag) and you grow up dreaming of that moment since you were five, so I played footy for 15 years before that moment.

    “But then you’re straight away striving for the next one and to get that feeling back again.”

    Since switching from the midfield to half-back, Daniel’s kick is now rated the second best in the competition by Champion Data and there’s a Twitter account called ‘Caleb Daniel Kicks’ which shows in slow-motion what he was seeing long before it became obvious to spectators when he hit the pass with laser-like precision.

    “It’s just training and working on your craft I guess, we have footy’s out from the first session of pre-season and all the way through, you’re a footballer so it’s not just running,” Daniel said.

    “There must be something there, being able to see little things but I have that confidence I can kick it regardless of where an opposition player may be.

    “People say it’s vision but honestly sometimes you just crap yourself and try to find a target and it ends up working.

    “I’ve had a few where I missed the target and it ends up being a goal (for the opposition) and you get on the phone with Bevo (Luke Beveridge) and he asks ‘what were you thinking there?’

    “I wouldn’t say he gives it to me but he lets me know, it wouldn’t be a bake, it’s more of a question, that classic father figure thing of ‘I’m not angry, just disappointed’.

    “That’s what’s great about Bevo’s coaching style, he wants you to play on instinct.”

    The Bulldogs’ defensive coach Rohan Smith agrees that Daniel’s kick is elite, but says there should be a Twitter account for his defensive actions as well.

    “I know a lot of people focus on his ball use, but I coach the defence and code his game every single week and some of the stuff he does off the ball to work for teammates, he’s phenomenal,” Smith said.

    “His workrate to be the best teammate he can be – he’ll cover off, pick up someone’s man, body them up to get a spoil, he’s unbelievable.

    “People might say ‘oh he can’t get up there and lay a spoil’ but the way he uses his body, he’s got perfect timing.

    “Every week you know what you’ll get from him whether they (opposition) sit on and tag him, he just does a job, he’s terrific.

    “I’ve just gone back to coaching defence this year, and when I was coaching the defenders in 2016 he wasn’t in there, but I can’t be any more impressed with the way he goes about it.”

    The Bulldogs play Richmond at Metricon Stadium on Wednesday night and while Daniel plays his 100th game, teammate and housemate Bailey Williams plays his 50th.

    They are both from South Australia and their household includes two rottweilers – brothers Barney and Hugo – who each weigh 50kg and are being looked after by a mate’s girlfriend while they are away in their Queensland hub.

    “I knew of him, because who doesn’t know Caleb Daniel back in Adelaide, but I didn’t know him well until I got to the club but we just formed a friendship and talked about how good Adelaide is,” Williams said.

    Williams says Daniel’s specialty in the kitchen is a salmon sushi bowl but they have pasta and garlic bread the night before a game.

    “And we always have a bit of choccy the night before,” Williams said.

    “He’s taught me the way he goes about things and how professional he is off the field, and on the field is quite amazing to watch really.”

    At 168cm, Daniel remains the shortest player in the competition but says he always believed he belonged at the top level thanks to the backing of his coaches at South Adelaide in the SANFL including Ron Fuller, Kym Cobb and Brad Gotch.

    “I always had that self-belief that if I was able to get a crack at it I would be able to play some decent footy, and I’ve got a massive thanks to South Adelaide in the SANFL for being able to progress me, I played some senior footy there when I was 16 and they didn’t hold me back regardless of size,” he said.

    “Brad Gotch coached me during my draft year and that helped being a guy who’s a similar height, he always had my back so I thank him a lot for that.”

    Smith said he knew Daniel was a star in the making from the first day he saw him.

    “I remember watching him play for South Australia in the NAB Championships down at Geelong and they were playing Vic Country, and there was this little kid with a helmet on absolutely running amok, he was kicking goals from the boundary and I thought ‘who is this kid?’” Smith said.

    “I’m sure he’s been challenged all his life by people saying ‘he’s too small’ but he’s just thumbed the nose and been amazing.

    “This is the thing – he is a pure footballer, he has a footy brain, his smarts around the contest even when the ball goes up the ground he runs to the right spots.”

    Now 99 games into his career he’s become more than just a good footballer at the Bulldogs, he has also become a leader.

    “Especially on-ground, he’s been around the footy club for five years and you can see it in his game he gives a lot of direction and feedback,” Smith said.

    “He’s pretty quiet during the week and goes about his business nice and easy but I think he’s a pretty demanding person on the field.”

    Daniel says he’s not an intense person and doesn’t watch much footy when he’s not playing.

    “We see enough of it during the week,” he said.

    “I’m pretty relaxed really, I spend a fair bit of time just chilling.”

    Until it’s time to put on his cape like Batman and go to work.

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  3. #2
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    Re: Caleb Daniel might be a big kid at heart but he has arrived as a leader as well as a star defender at the Weste

    Man I love this guy what a jet. There is no one I am more surer of with ball in hand. Has taken another step forward this year.
    Josh Schache >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Jake Stringer

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