THERE were pleasant headaches at the selection table for Golden Square on Thursday night ahead of the Bulldogs’ Bendigo Football League elimination final against Eaglehawk.
The Bulldogs will take on the Hawks on Saturday night at the Queen Elizabeth Oval with what will be the best side they’ve put on the park this year following the inclusions of captain Simon Rosa, Bendigo Gold-listed Che Walls and inter-league defender Jon Coe.
“It’s really hotting up for spots and selection last night was heavily debated,” Bulldogs coach Nick Carter said on Friday.
“It’s a good problem to have with a lot of options for the last few spots.
“We’re confident we have a good side in with all our top-liners, bar Hamish Morcom, playing on Saturday night.”
Coe returns from a shoulder injury suffered against Maryborough in round 15.
“Having Jon back in the side gives us that third key option down back. He has had a super year and you know exactly what you’re going to get out of him,” Carter said.
“He has really grown in terms of taking responsibility for the side and setting up.
“And having Rick (Ladson) down there as well gives us a good, steady back half, which is going to be important playing against a fairly flighty Eaglehawk attack.”
While the Golden Square side boasts plenty of big-game experience in the likes of Rosa, Corey Jones, Rick Ladson, Jack Geary, Dale Young, Dale Lowry and Clayton Anderson, the squad of 26 is also packed with youth.
Phil Ryan, Jaydon Cowling and Jayden Burke will play their first senior finals, while none of the eight players selected on the extended interchange have tasted senior finals.
“The young players are all really excited about the opportunity,” Carter said.
“They’ll be nervous, which is a good thing... if they weren’t nervous they wouldn’t be ready.
“It’s about going out, enjoying the contest and really leaning on the guys who have been there and done it before.”
The Bulldogs have won the past five flags and are gunning to join Sandhurst (1929-34) as the only BFL clubs to win six premierships on the trot.
However, unlike the past five years when they’ve had the second chance - not that they’ve needed it, winning all 13 finals during their premiership run - it’s season on the line every week after finishing fourth.
“You always prefer to get in the top three,” Carter said.
“But we’ve known for a few weeks that this was where we were going to end up.
“We’re clear on what’s going to be required week in, week out to achieve the goal we’ve set out after this year.
“The guys are comfortable with that and know that if they cough it up it’s all over.
“All we’ll be focussed on Saturday night is the first quarter and then take it from there.”
The Bulldogs of 2001 remain the only BFL team to win the flag from the elimination final.
Saturday night’s final at the QEO starts at 6pm.
Clayton Anderson Matt Tyrell Rick Ladson
Dale Lowry Dale Young Jon Coe
Phil Ryan Simon Rosa Jaydon Cowling
Jayden Burke Che Walls James Molinaro
Josh Filo Lachlan Woodward Jack Daley
Matt Compston Corey Jones Jack Geary
Interchange: (from) Jacob Greenwood, Liam Jacques, Sam Harper, Ewen Pickles, Sam Frawley, Tim Lechter, Ben Connelly, Blayne Ryan-Storey