WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge wasted no time turning his players' attention to Friday night's much-anticipated rematch with the Giants after slumping to 0-2 on Sunday.
Greater Western Sydney has beaten Beveridge's side four times in five chances since their memorable 2016 preliminary final that preceded the Bulldogs' fairytale premiership triumph.
The rivalry reached a new crescendo in September last year, when a physical Giants outfit bullied the Bulldogs out of the finals race after the latter had won seven of their last nine games.
Bulldogs star Josh Dunkley noted the way both Collingwood and St Kilda approached playing his team since, with their suffocating pressure curbing the Dogs' high-octane ball movement.
However, Dunkley said they needed "to embrace that physical nature and push forward".
With their season already slipping away – sitting on the bottom with a paltry percentage south of 50 – the much-hyped Bulldogs are gearing up for a significant response under the Friday night lights.
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"We've obviously had some history with the Giants, and 'Bevo' did mention that after the game," Dunkley told SEN radio on Tuesday.
"We've got to sharpen the tools and it's going to be a big one – and we will come out with an intent and (be) physically fierce against the opposition.
"Hopefully, that transforms into our footy and we play with some freedom and get a win."
Dunkley was confident the horror start to the season had not dented his teammates' belief but he admitted to feeling "sorry" for new captain Marcus Bontempelli.
"I think he's going OK. It's been a tough few months for him, going through all the COVID-19 (pandemic), the break and things like that," Dunkley said.
"He's done a really good job in keeping the group really tight-knit. I feel sorry for him at times … to see what 'Bont' has been through is quite tough.
"But he's the ultimate professional and the best leader we've got at our footy club, so we're right behind him and we hope going forward he's going to be good for us."
Dunkley also revealed the personal toll of the strict lockdown conditions the players were living under – even after they eased for the rest of the public – as the Bulldogs struggled on-field.
As of Monday, footballers can now visit immediate family and engage in recreational activities, such as golf, tennis, surfing and fishing.
"We've pretty much been in lockdown since returning to training, so players have not been allowed out of your house other than for essential reasons," he said.
"It's tough when we're 0-2 and I haven't been able to see my direct family for quite a while.
"(There are) mental battles you go through and the footy life isn't easy – if it was easy, a lot of people would be doing it.
"So it's important to be able to get out now and clear the head a little bit, get away from footy when you can and really focus back in when you get that opportunity, too."