Latest News Wulff leading Royals gallantly from the middle
Wulff leading Royals gallantly from the middle
Posted on 06/07/2011
CRAIG Wulff has stepped up as captain and in a new on-ball role with his typical vigour, passion and effectiveness in recent weeks and is desperately hoping last Saturday's win over Peel sparks a Royals' revival starting this week in the Foxtel Cup semi-final against Williamstown at Etihad Stadium.
Wulff started his league career with East Perth during 2002 originally as a defender, but for several years now has been one of the best wingmen in the competition.
However, he has never shirked an issue when any ball was there to be won and with the Royals' down on experience in the middle he has moved in there the last two weeks with great effect.
That included 35 possessions in Saturday's win over Peel at Medibank Stadium that ensured the Royals' stayed clear of bottom spot on the ladder.
However, disappointingly for the 28-year-old veteran of 173 WAFL games, he also ended up copping a one-week suspension meaning he will miss this Saturday's Foxtel Cup clash with Williamstown.
However, if the Royals win they will make the grand final and Wulff knows that everyone in the East Perth side wants to win and get that opportunity to face off against the winner of next week's clash between Claremont and the Port Adelaide Magpies.
"We are in it to win it there's no doubt about that. We'll put our best team on the park and that's what you have to deal with. We still feel that we have a team that will be capable of running their older or more physical players around, and we are looking forward to it," Wulff said.
"Now it's here and we are all trying to win, and are a looking forward to it. We don’t want to lose when we have Western Australia on our backs. We are trying to put up a good show to let the rest of Australia know that WA has quality football.
"It's an honour to play over there against quality teams, and quality players who aren’t playing AFL at the moment to see where we are personally and physically compared to them."
With Shaquille McKenzie and Rob Macaulay making their debuts against Peel it means that five players now have played their first games over the last fortnight after Brock Higgins, Ryan Smith and Arthur Bennell took on South Fremantle as well.
That's a good sign for the future and Wulff was glad to see everything click for a win over the Thunder.
"It was critical for both teams because we were sitting down near the bottom where we could move a game clear of the other and they could have got off the bottom," he said.
"We've just got such a young team at the moment that confidence is the key and we just have to try to keep winning and educating those young players, and build for next year by finishing this season off strongly.
"They've all got their roles and know what they have to do. They don’t have to do anything outside of what we expect. They just have to follow team rules and put their body on the line when they have to. At the moment they are all stepping up and taking their role on the chin."
Wulff has enjoyed the opportunity to play on the ball the last couple of weeks mostly alongside Brendan Lee and Garry Moss, and just tries to let his attack on the ball set the example for the rest of his teammates.
"It was a bit of a different role with being in and around the ball, and not out wide so it's good to get a bit of the ball and some contact. Hopefully I can feed the ball out to some of our runners, that's what I try to focus on doing," Wulff said.
"Sometimes on the wing you can be stuck out wide and don’t get to many contests or you are a feed player which is always not a great tag to have. I prefer to be in-and-under and we have some young guys playing on the wing who need time to develop their games.
"If that means me stepping out of my position for a while so be it. Not saying that the young guys can't do that, but you probably need someone in there with a bigger or stronger body just to give us first use of the ball to give the younger guys more space out wide where they can use their skills and running to hurt the opposition."
As well as Wulff picking up 35 possessions in Saturday's win over Peel, Brendan Lee gathered a career-high 41 as he continues his remarkable season that would see him being a Sandover Medal contender, FD Book Medal favourite and he did represent Western Australia.
Wulff continues to admire the way he goes about his football on and off the field.
"He knows how to find the footy that's for sure. He has been outstanding and his work rate at training, and through pre-season is probably the best I've ever seen of a teammate I've played with," he said.
"His dedication to football is amazing and he does all the little things, and makes sure everyone else is working hard. The work he does behind the scenes is great for everyone to learn from, even me as an older player I can still learn from the way he goes about his business.
"He's probably the premier midfielder in the comp at the moment with Luke Blackwell, and when you are getting the numbers he is and with the way he's using it as well it's hard to look past him."
Wulff now has had to step up as captain for four weeks since Michael Swan injured himself in the last Foxtel Cup clash with the Northern Territory Thunder in Darwin.
Two weeks ago Craig Glancy also retired due to recurring injuries as he joined the list that includes Luke Webster, Adam Pickering, Andrew Merrington and Brent Cowell as East Perth stars who have called an end to their careers in the last 12 months.
With Swan still out of the side, that makes Wulff the last remaining veteran in the side and he was especially disappointed when 2002 premiership player Glancy was forced to retire.
"It's very sad with the work that Plucka has put in this year to try to get out and play has been amazing," Wulff said.
"He does all the work off the field, all the extra running, goes to all the rehabs and it's really disappointing that he couldn’t get up for a final game for the club and even me personally. To see a mate have to go out like that and not get a final game is disappointing."
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