Bulldogs planning early grudge match against old mates

KATIE Brennan and Monique Conti celebrated as premiership heroes together in the red, white and blue in 2018;  but they'll be foes for the Western Bulldogs come January.

New Bulldogs coach Nathan Burke is hoping to schedule a practice match between the Dogs and Richmond the week before the official practice matches begin.

Unless both teams make the Grand Final, it will be the only time we'll get to see the Bulldogs and Tigers face each other in 2020, with no cross-conference match scheduled between the two sides in the regular season.

The League schedules one practice match between clubs, with the Bulldogs taking on Geelong on January 25.

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"Off the field we're friends and everything, but on the field it's like we're up against any Adelaide girl, any North girl," Bulldogs utility Aisling Utri said.

"I don't think any of the Doggies girls will hold anything back."

Brennan and Conti joined expansion club Richmond over the off-season, while Libby Birch was traded to Melbourne.

Monique Conti and Katie Brennan celebrate a goal as Dogs in 2018. Picture: AFL Photos

The Bulldogs lost Emma Kearney the season before, leaving the side looking totally different to the team that won the premiership under Paul Groves.

The Bulldogs will be a new-look side, but they should be close to full strength by the first game of the season.

"Izzy Huntington had a clean up on her knee, Hannah Scott had an ankle issue and she's coming back from that one. Dee Berry had an ankle operation and she'll be right to go early January," coach Burke said.

"There's no one, touch wood at this stage, that is in doubt of missing the first game."

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It will be the first time the four top-10 draftees in Gabby Newton, Nell Morris-Dalton, Gemma Lagioia and Elisabeth Georgiostathis will line up for the AFLW side, but not the first time we've seen them in Bulldogs colours.

The Bulldogs defeated the Tigers in all three matches during the 2019 VFLW season, including a five-point win in the elimination final.

Georgiostathis kicked two goals for the Dogs that day and laid 12 tackles.

Burke coached all four of them in the 2019 NAB AFL Women's Under-18 Championships, and had plenty of positive words on each of them to get Dogs fans fired up.

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"Liz (Georgiostathis) is just never-say-die. She's either going to win the contest or halve the contest. She's a life and death sort of player. She'll run, tackle, harass and chase," Burke said.

"What I like with Gabby is she makes the players around her better. She's got great vision, great handballing. It is an unusual thing for a young player."

"Gemma is only a wee little thing, but her decision-making is as good as anybody I've seen pick up a footy."

"She'll kick it to where people should be and eventually they'll pick up on how well she does that."

"Nell brings a bit of X-factor. She can play as a forward, she's got herself fit enough to get up and down the ground."