MARCUS Bontempelli aims to stay “genuine” and “authentic” throughout an unusual start to life as Western Bulldogs captain during the AFL shutdown.
The 24-year-old took the reins from premiership teammate Easton Wood before the 2020 campaign and has already faced some difficult challenges, including working through the fallout from Lachie Hunter’s drink-driving incident in April.
Bontempelli’s tenure began with the Dogs’ being by Collingwood in round one and coronavirus restrictions have provided obstacles for the entire playing group.
But the star midfielder believes the complications that have arisen will make him a better captain in the long run.
“Ultimately what I’ve tried to do is stay in regular contact with the whole group and particularly the young ones,” Bontempelli told RSN radio.
“They’re the ones I think about who are most at a loss in terms of their early football experiences and this being quite a unique and different one.
“You want to take care of everyone’s wellbeing and make sure that they’re understanding of how things are evolving.”
Bontempelli said the Bulldogs were continuing to support Hunter, who relinquished his leadership role and was hit with a club-imposed four-match ban after crashing into four cars.
“Lachie was my vice-captain and he and I are pretty close mates, too, so that was probably the challenging thing from an emotional point of view,” Bontempelli said.
“We were really disappointed in Lachie’s actions and behaviours and it was a tough few days there, not just for us but when you consider how publicly it played out for Lachie.
“Clearly he’s made a blue with regards to his decisions but he definitely had to wear every bit of it, which is just the way it is unfortunately.”
Bontempelli expects “significant intensity” in matches once the AFL is given the green light to restart the season.
The competition could return as early as next month, with the AFL set to announce its return-to-play plan on May 11.
(C) AAP 2020