The West

Dogs not fooled by Docker loss
Dogs not fooled by Docker loss

Shaun Higgins says the Western Bulldogs are preparing for the 2013 version of Fremantle in tonight's NAB Challenge game at Etihad Stadium, not the one that West Coast thrashed last week.

The Dockers lost by 84 points to the Eagles in a dramatic reversal of form from last year.

But Higgins said Fremantle still resembled the team which made the grand final and the Bulldogs weren't taking much notice of how they played against West Coast.

"You take out a little bit in terms of structure and the way they're playing, but not really," Higgins said.

"We know how good they are. They showed that last year so we're expecting them to come over and really crank up for round one. They are obviously a quality side."

The Western Bulldogs have three players returning from long-term injuries - WA defender Jason Johannisen (shoulder), Higgins (foot) and Tom Williams (shoulder).

Johannisen played 13 games last year off half-back before hurting a shoulder in a collision with Greater Western Sydney star Jeremy Cameron in round 15.

Higgins' wretched run of injuries continued last year and he played just three matches before succumbing to a navicular stress fracture in his left foot.

Williams has managed only five games in the last two years.

Higgins admitted he was nervous about returning from an injury which has ended some players' careers, but was also excited about playing football again.

"It's probably just natural (nerves) after 12 months out," Higgins said.

"But I'm really looking forward to it. When it first happens and you get hit with the news, it's a little bit of a surprise and a shock.

"But you get operated on straight away, get back into the swing of things and back amongst the boys. They're playing footy and then you tend to worry about where the team is at."

The Dogs improved last year, winning eight games, including four of their last six.

They have named a strong team with eight of the top 10 players from last year's best and fairest.

Captain Ryan Griffen and veteran Robert Murphy couldn't be considered because of injury.

The Dogs made a winning start to the NAB Challenge when they defeated St Kilda by 11 points at a sodden Simonds Stadium last week.

The West Australian

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