‘Down to the wire’: Western Bulldogs star Tom Liberatore expecting tight AFL grand final

Jasper BruceNCA NewsWire
Not Supplied
Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

Western Bulldogs star Tom Liberatore says having an extra week off between the preliminary final and Saturday’s decider has been “unnerving”.

For the first time under the current finals system, both preliminary final-winning sides have been made to wait two weeks to play in the decider.

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The scheduling change has meant Melbourne enters the clash having played just one game during a month-long stay in Perth.

The Bulldogs are on the opposite end of the spectrum – Luke Beveridge’s men finished the regular season outside the top four and have spent time in four separate states on the road to the grand final.

Liberatore, one of a handful of Bulldogs to have played in the side’s last premiership win, says this year’s play-offs have been unlike those of 2016.

“It’s been heaps different,” he said on Thursday.

“I think it’s been a little bit more unnerving, having an extra week off and being away from all the support back home, but I think it’ll start to ramp up a bit in the coming days.”

Western Bulldogs vs Essendon
Camera IconLiberatore has missed one game all season. Michael Klein Credit: News Corp Australia

The 29-year-old said the time on the road had galvanised the Bulldogs playing group.

“It’s been a really good atmosphere, the last four weeks since we’ve travelled,” he said.

“That’s certainly helped us bond really well together.”

Liberatore said he expected the meeting of two of the competition’s premier midfield setups would result in a tightly fought contest.

“It’ll be great. We’ve had a couple of good battles this year. We’ve had one (win) apiece,” he said.

“It’ll be a great challenge for both teams and it’ll certainly go down to the wire, I reckon.”

While it has been difficult to be away from home in the lead-up to the decider, Liberatore thanked his loved ones for showing their support from afar.

“I’ve had plenty of love, plenty of videos, plenty of wellwishing from family and friends and supporters,” he said.

“We obviously couldn’t do it without them.”

Originally published as ‘Down to the wire’: Western Bulldogs star Tom Liberatore expecting tight AFL grand final

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