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Bulldogs still aim for successful season
By Roger Vaughan
20:21 AEST Mon May 23 2011

A day after their worst AFL loss in 15 years, the Western Bulldogs were still defiantly talking up their prospects this season.

President David Smorgon also backed Rodney Eade and insisted the club would not publicly discuss the coach's future until their season was over.

Smorgon issued a public apology to members after Sunday's 123-point mauling from West Coast in Perth.

It was the Bulldogs' seventh-biggest losing margin - Smorgon incorrectly described it as their fourth-worst loss - and their biggest thumping since North Melbourne won by 131 points in 1996.

Despite their spluttering start to the season and the West Coast disaster, which Eade described as probably the worst loss in his coaching career, Smorgon has retained his high expectations for 2011.

"Despite this loss, our season is NOT over," Smorgon wrote in the letter.

Before the season started, he publicly said the Bulldogs aimed to make the grand final after three-straight preliminary final losses.

"When I was asked 'well, what's a pass mark for the club?', I said 'a grand final' and I don't resile from that," he told Melbourne radio station 3AW on Monday night.

"We as a club have to continue to aim high.

"I know people want to link my comments with Rodney's contract ... I never linked them.

"The pass mark would remain the same for the club ... in the sense that we believe our season is still not over, despite yesterday's very poor result and despite our inconsistency."

Eade has been Bulldogs coach since 2005 and he is among several coaches out of contract at the end of this season.

The Bulldogs' poor start to the year - they are 11th with three wins from eight games - inevitably increases the focus on his future.

But Smorgon said no individual was responsible for Sunday's calamity.

"Rodney Eade's contract at the Bulldogs is not under threat," Smorgon said.

"It's a black mark against every single one of us and we don't look at any individual as a result of yesterday.

"We don't point the finger at anyone."

Smorgon also said the club would not buy into the media speculation about their coach.

"I'm telling you we won't be talking about Rodney's contract until our season is over," he said.

"We've been very solid on that."

The Bulldogs now face a must-win game against in-form Hawthorn on Sunday at Etihad Stadium.

"We have to respond and we have great belief in our players' ability to respond, we have great (belief) in our club's ability to turn around what is a very disappointing, a shattering loss," Smorgon said.

After the upcoming games against Hawthorn and Geelong, the Bulldogs appear to have an easier run for the rest of the season if they can regain form.

Soon after the Eagles game, Eade was flagging several changes to the team.

Adam Cooney and Barry Hall are chances to resume from injury.

"There has to be some fallout as far as selection and the way we go about training," Eade said.

All-Australian defender Brian Lake continues to languish in the VFL, but Smorgon said the fullback's attitude to training had been "very, very good".


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