Warwick Capper backs Dale Thomas

WESTERN BULLDOGS 6.4 7.6 11.8 12.11 (83)CARLTON 1.2 5.7 7.10 9.12 (66)

Goals: Western Bulldogs: Cooney 3, Giansiracusa 3, Cordy, Campbell, Dickson, Hunter, Macrae, Stevens. Carlton: Waite 3, Menzel 2, Robinson 2, Garlett, Kreuzer.Best: Western Bulldogs: Higgins, Cooney, Stevens, Goodes, Macrae, Liberatore. Carlton: Simpson, Robinson, Curnow, Kreuzer, Tuohy.Umpires: Donlon, Mitchell, Mollison.

Dale Thomas has attracted many new admirers since joining Carlton – including one of the most colourful full-forwards in VFL-AFL history.

Warwick Capper, the former Swan and Brisbane Bear, joined the faithful at Visy Park on Friday as the Blues and Western Bulldogs completed an entertaining practice match in front of about 4000 fans.

The Bulldogs would win by 17 points – but it was Thomas that Capper was there to meet and have his photograph taken with post-match.

It’s understood Thomas now wears the No.39 as a tribute to the once high-flying, tight shorts-wearing Capper, his favourite player as a youngster, and former Collingwood teammate Heath Shaw, now with Greater Western Sydney.

”I am pretty happy he likes me,” Capper said, chatting under the Legends Stand as the Bulldogs built their lead.

”But as I said before: ‘Please Daisy, take some high overhead marks and get some tighter shorts. What you have on are down to your knees!”’

Thomas, particularly in his early years, enjoyed attempting – and completing – the spectacular mark, something Capper was renowned for in the mid-1980s.

”Daisy is also pretty quick and fit now,” Capper said. ”I am just hoping he can play the whole year out without any trouble with the ankle.”

Thomas moved well against the Bulldogs, on a day Matthew Kreuzer surprisingly took to the field and played well, while skipper Marc Murphy ran strongly and dispelled any fears about the back spasms that forced him to miss the AFL captains’ lunch with the commission in Adelaide on Wednesday.

A healthy Jarrad Waite also found touch, booting three goals, while left-footer Troy Menzel was dangerous and appears set to be a regular selection.

There was also good news in the reserves clash, with Lachie Henderson kicking three goals, and proving he had recovered from leg surgery in January.

However, midfielder Brock McLean left the field in the first quarter and was subbed off with what the club said was a knock to the leg. He is expected to be fit for the round one clash against Port Adelaide next Sunday.

Andrew Carrazzo, Andrew Walker, Chris Yarran and Bryce Gibbs were rested. Carrazzo is expected to be fit and over his calf problems by round two, while Chris Judd is likely to return in round three, having had surgery last month on his Achilles tendon.

For the Bulldogs, a lean Adam Cooney ran smoothly, while Shaun Higgins, with 30 disposals by half-time, appears primed for a stellar season after a 2013 campaign ruined by injury. He was used at half-back and flourished when he pushed forward.

Jack Macrae (25 disposals) and Koby Stevens (20) were also influential.

Bulldogs ball magnet Tom Liberatore was allowed to sit out the first half but the tough midfielder reinforced his class with 16 disposals, including nine contested and four clearances, in the third term alone.

No.4 draft pick Marcus Bontempelli showed encouraging signs in his first match of the summer in the reserves.

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