NT News

Key defenders locked in for the big dance

- SIMEON THOMAS-WILSON

KEY defenders Steven May and Alex Keath completed Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs’ final open training sessions in Perth on Friday.

The defenders for both grand final sides were named on Thursday night.

May and Keath trained lightly at Perth Stadium in front of thousands of fans as grand final fever took hold in the West Australian capital.

May’s fellow backman Christian Salem said he was thrilled May was good to play on Saturday.

“He’s sweet, he did a full session this week. I guess that week off helped him,” he said. “You’ve seen all year how big he is for us.”

The Demons only had their 22 and four emergencie­s out on the track on Friday.

Players were also using head of developmen­t Mark Williams’ Sherrin Precision as they did kicking on the Perth Stadium turf.

Williams and the rest of the Demons coaching staff then donned bibs as they did shadow play.

Showing he still has the competitiv­e juices at 63, Williams dragged intercept defender Jake Lever down after he had taken a mark.

While the Demons only had those players who will, and could be involved, on Saturday evening the Bulldogs’ entire squad trained. Ryan Gardner and Laitham Vandermeer were dropped from the side that walloped Port Adelaide by 71 points in a preliminar­y final, but Bulldogs head of footy Chris Grant said both players were team first.

“Clearly they are disappoint­ed but at the same time they will support their teammates,” he said.

Keath, Tom Liberatore, Jason Johannisen and Bailey Williams focused mainly on skills.

Grant said there were no doubts on their fitness.

“Everyone trained well,” he said.

Bailey Smith’s rise to superstar status continued with the 21year-old by far the most popular player among the crowd at Perth Stadium.

“He is a popular young man Bailey Smith,” Grant said. “There were a lot of Bailey chants.”

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