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Western Bulldogs, Marcus Bontempelli, injury, Fremantle Dockers, Nat Fyfe, pre-finals bye, sidelined, Jeremy Cameron, Geelong Cats

Western Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli says his injury in recent weeks “hasn’t been as bad as described” and he will be at full strength for next week’s finals in Fremantle.

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has been making the case that Bontempelli has been troubled by the captain’s “one or two” absences in recent weeks.

The coach and star player met with medical boss Chris Bell earlier this month to discuss the course heading into September, which will include Bontempelli playing the final two home and away rounds.

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The pre-final game, booed by fans, has also worked for Bontempelli, giving him the chance to take a break from training to re-fit the Bulldogs for next weekend’s match against Fremantle at Optus Stadium. Look for a miracle to run outside of the four.

“It wasn’t as bad as it turned out,” Bontempelli said on Friday.

“He (Beveridge) was right about the fact that we sat down and talked about it a little bit.

“I know where my body is at, so it’s been a good conversation around it, but I’m feeling really good and I’m definitely in the majors now, which is good.

“I get that like every year, you’re dealing with different things, and probably everybody in the league at this point.

“The pre-finals give you that chance to refresh your mind and body and go into another finals series.”

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The Bulldogs made the grand final after finishing fifth last season, and won the premiership in 2016 when they finished seventh – a display they have overcome the odds of losing each final.

But when Bontempelli plays against Fremantle, he will face competition to make it out with teammate Jason Johansson, who has missed the last three rounds on and off the field with an ankle problem.

But without Johansson, the Bulldogs are close to full strength for their playoff campaign.

“He’s tracking well and I think he has one or two speed-based metrics, but the good thing is that we have time for this,” Bontempelli said of Johansson.

“I think he’ll be in the window to play hopefully.

He’s an experienced player, so he adds that layer of maturity and he’s a very dynamic player.

FYFE is all set for the final shoot.

Nat Fay had his second worst game for the Dockers as he returned from a head injury against GWS last weekend.

The two-time Brownlow Medalist was kept out for just nine games – his second AFL appearance since being injury-free.

The Dockers have opted to enter Fyfe into the WAFL this weekend while the AFL side are welcome in the pre-finals.

Fremantle’s head of football operations, Robert Murphy, said he was confident Fife would not need more game minutes.

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“Nat has had a really strong month of training, he has a game,” Murphy told SN.

“It’s different from his other injuries, he’s had really strong[training]. He’s going to get a big hit today and tomorrow, so he should be primed.

“He didn’t have a big game last week statistically, but in my eyes it was one of those games and he seemed to move freely and fly for the football. It seems not too far off for a superstar.”

Fyfe has endured a tough 2022 campaign after off-season shoulder surgery led to an infection. He also suffered an early injury before a serious back complaint saw him miss the first 12 rounds.

But Murphy says players like Fife cannot be counted out.

“Don’t underestimate a champion, this is the next chapter of Nat’s career exploring what’s possible and it’s clear he’s going to spend a lot of time in the future.”

“How does it feel to line up with your magnet under FIFA in a grand final at Optus Stadium?

“You were a little worried, weren’t you. A player with such physical dominance and with all the time and experience he’s had before, he’s as driven as an athlete I’ve ever encountered in my football career.

Dockers chief executive Simon Garlick said it was good news for Griffin Logue and Rory Lobb on the injury front.

“Griff was very close against the Giants in Canberra and Loby wasn’t there,” he said on SN.

“They’re both going to be a lock for the finals as long as there’s no nonsense from here to there.”

Garrick says forward Matt Taberner is pushing to return in the do-or-die final against the Western Bulldogs.

“I think he has a real chance to press his case.”

Taberner has not played since picking up a calf injury in round 21 of the win over the Melbourne Dogs.

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Cameron who trusted the cats rose

Jeremy Cameron sent fear through the Cats camp when he failed to complete the Round 22 clash against the Suns.

He missed the game against West Coast with an injury but coach Chris Scott is confident the star forward will be available against Collingwood in eight days’ time.

Cameron took to the training track for the Cats on Friday and was impressed with his performance.

“That gives you a good indication of how good he is,” Scott said after training.

“If we’re going to play tomorrow if we don’t play more than the game, I think he’ll be there.

“They play Cameron, they play (Reese) Stanley, they play Mitch Duncan and Cam Guthrie had a little shoulder, but he’s fine.

Guthrie went down in the win over the Eagles with a shoulder injury in a friendly firefight with teammate Patrick Dangerfield.

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