The Western Bulldogs were undeniably one of the most disappointing clubs on-field during the 2012 AFL season, though a great act by veteran Daniel Giansiracusa will hopefully help the Dogs turn things around sooner rather than later.
A grand total of just five wins, their lowest since 2004, combined with losing their last 11 matches by an average margin of 59 points, highlights just how far down the pecking order they have slipped since their three consecutive Preliminary Final appearances in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
The objective now for the Bulldogs is to rebuild their list in preparation for their next tilt at finals success, but central to this is managing their existing list and retaining and utilising the services of experienced senior players, such as skipper Matthew Boyd and the underrated Daniel Giansiracusa.
Giansiracusa has announced that 2013 is likely to be his last season in the red, white and blue and despite turning 31 in March, he will have a large role to play for the Bulldogs both on and off the field.
Persistent and niggling injuries have been cited for Giansiracusa’s decision to conclude his playing career with the Bulldogs. However, his form in 2012 was more than serviceable given he managed 17 matches, was the Bulldogs’ leading goalkicker with 28 goals and also averaged a handy 15 disposals per game.
Given the loss of senior experience the Dogs have faced in the last two years, the decision for Giansiracusa to commit to the club for one last season is one that will hold the Bulldogs in good stead moving forward, as the Bulldogs’ list is chock-full of talented youngsters and they will look to the older players to inspire them and show them just what is required to play hard, committed football week after week.
Giansiracusa is one player that can testify to the benefits of learning from experienced players, as he made his debut for the Bulldogs in 2001 at the tail end of Terry Wallace’s reign as senior coach and during one of the more successful periods in the Dogs’ recent history, having played in consecutive Preliminary Finals in 1997 and 1998 as part of four successive finals campaigns.
The experienced Bulldogs at the time such as Chris Grant, Scott West and Tony Liberatore would have ensured that the young players such as Giansiracusa arriving at the club were taught exactly what it takes to become a long-term, consistent contributor to the football club.
Giansiracusa’s efforts over the last 12 seasons at the Western Bulldogs, with his total of 230 games and 280 goals, have proved a testament to his consistency and hard work in that time.
Now the role for Giansiracusa is as a mentor to the young Bulldogs and to help instil the core values of the group, which one only learns through time and experience. This is where the loyalty of Giansiracusa remaining a one-club player will shine through as a role model.
While the battle to get his body right week after week will be challenging, and it will be hard to see him playing in all 22 of the Bulldogs matches in 2013, his presence on the training track and around the club during the course of the season will be vital for the young Doggies.
If Giansiracusa can push his aging body through one last pre-season and into as many matches as he possibly can, his inspirational efforts will be appreciated by his teammates both now and in the future.
It’s true that Giansiracusa will not be remembered as one of the all-time great AFL players, but at the Whitten Oval he will hold a special place in their hearts as one of the few players to play in more than 200 matches and remain at the Bulldogs for his entire career.
Having terrific mentors around a club is so important to a young group, as it is people and their actions that inspire the most, and Giansiracusa’s presence next season will teach and inspire the Dogs to reach greater heights in future years.
If the Bulldogs are to end their record 58-year premiership drought sooner rather than later, it will be players like Daniel Giansiracusa that help lead the Dogs back up the ladder, and with his efforts next year, Giansiracusa be remembered as one of the building blocks that hopefully begins the resurgence of the Bulldogs in 2013 and beyond.