Dylan Lake has had his first hitout since a broken leg ruled him out of last season’s grand final, in what is a small step for him but a giant leap for the Bulldogs’ premiership aspirations.
The Bulldogs excitement machine played a game of touch football at the Gunnedah Rugby Club on Saturday as part of the town’s Australia Day celebrations.
The 23-year-old No.1 broke his fibula in the dying stages of Gunnedah’s preliminary final defeat of the Roosters at Kootingal on September 2. It meant he missed the side’s grand final loss to North Tamworth the following weekend.
Lake will be key to the Bulldogs’ stated all-or-nothing pursuit of their first premiership since 1998, when the new season starts in early May.
On Saturday at the rugby club, he came off the “bench” for the Indigenous side in their 7-6 win over the Rest side, and ran freely, in what was a fairly light-hearted affair on a scorching hot day.
“It was good to pull the boots on after that last injury last season,” he said.
“So just try and get that out of my head and keep carrying on … see how it [the leg] pulls up tonight.”
“I was a bit dusty putting the boots on … but I’ll get my head around it and come good,” he added.
“It’s [the leg] feeling all right – it’s not too bad. I probably won’t feel the soreness till later, if it does get sore. But yeah, fingers crossed it doesn't.”
Lake said he was “pleased” when he heard the season would start later than usual, after the teams opted for two rounds instead of three.
He said he “had a couple of physios to go to” and then “get back on my feet and start training again”.
The Bulldogs are yet to officially start pre-season training, although a group of players are already training.
When asked if he was confident he would be right for the start of the season, Lake recalled how he had stated, after being carried off the field in the preliminary final, that he was confident of being fit for the grand final.
“I’ll not say I’m too confident, because that’s what I said last time, and I broke my bone. But yeah, I’ll say I’m confident of starting the season off.”