How a new coach has helped Dogs 'release the shackles'

WESTERN Bulldogs defender Hannah Scott has discovered a new side of herself thanks to the outlook coach Nathan Burke has brought to the team.

Scott said Burke, who was appointed for the next two seasons in September, has preached simplicity and has ensured every player feels free to play to their strengths, rather than trying to fit players around a specific gameplan.

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The ability to play freely might be just what Scott needs to recapture her form of 2018, when she was named an All Australian, something she thinks she can do again if she doesn't overthink on the field. 

"Burkey's philosophy has resonated with me quite a bit," Scott said.

"Just playing in different positions, I've got this new feel to me."

Burke replaced Paul Groves, who was in the role for the inaugural three years of the AFLW competition.

And Scott hasn't been the only one to benefit from the change.

"It's been really freeing actually, for a lot of girls," she said.

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"It's almost like he (Burke) sees too much structure as a bit of a restriction.

"He just wants to release the shackles and see the magic happen."

The magic looks like it should come in front of goal, with the forward line looking far less stagnant in the pre-season than it did at times last year.

The Bulldogs averaged just 29 points per game last season, down from 42 in 2018 and 34 in 2017.

In a practice match last weekend against Geelong – the second-stingiest defence in the competition in 2019 – the Dogs had 17 scoring shots.

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Last year, the Dogs only passed 10 scoring shots in a game once, in the final round against Carlton. 

The Dogs trailed in that game 5.5 to 0.7 at three-quarter time, before storming home but ultimately losing 6.5 (41) to 5.8 (38).

Hannah Scott kicks the ball during a practice match against Geelong. Picture: AFL Photos

Scott said another welcome move Burke has introduced has been finding versatility in a range of players, so he can spin the magnets whenever it's needed. 

"We can have a completely different look quarter to quarter," she said.

Scott has been playing in the midfield more and also got some time in the forward line during the practice match against the Cats.

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Isabel Huntington looks to be another player set for a positional change as she swings from the forward line to a role as an intercepting defender at times.

"She has some of the best hands I've seen," Scott said.

Danielle Marshall arrived from Phoenix, Arizona last year and played with the VFLW side before earning an international rookie contract for the 2020 season.

The American is the one wildcard that Burke could use in a range of roles.

"Dani Marshall is the big unknown," Scott said.

"In our VFL she played down back, up forward. In our practice match she played in the ruck."

The Bulldogs kick off their season at RSEA Park on Sunday, February 9 against St Kilda.

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