2019 European Championships Squad Preview – GB Bulldogs

The 2019 European Championships are just around the corner and as part of the build-up, AFL Europe will be previewing all nine teams involved in this year’s tournament. The European Championship is AFL Europe’s premier 18-a-side tournament, played every three years, and this year will see teams from across the continent travel to London to see who comes out on top.

Our third preview looks at the reigning European Championship winners, the Great Britain Bulldogs. Having played at every European Championships, the Bulldogs will want to retain their title from the 2016 tournament and use this year’s competition as a big stepping board ahead of next years International Cup.

Not only are the Bulldogs the reigning premiers, but they are also one of the most consistent teams at the tournament, having never finished lower than third place. Playing at such a high standard is highly demanding, but also highly rewarding and coach Dean Thomas believes that if they are at their best, they will have a great chance of winning.

“Our goal for this tournament is to get the best result we can, by performing to the best of our capabilities. We know that our best is good enough to win it, but the margins are slim,” Thomas said.

The team’s preparation for this tournament started back in April at the AFL London pre-season cup, where the Bulldogs reached the semi-finals. Since then, the squad have continued their preparation with regular training sessions.

On top of that, many of the Bulldogs represented their countries as England, Scotland, and Wales at the recent Euro Cup in Sweden, where the England Dragonslayers took home the Cup from the annual 9-a-side tournament.

“We don’t foresee too many issues with the transition from 9-a-side to 18’s footy… We always reiterate to our players that whilst the two formats are different, the attributes and skills displayed in 9-a-side are easily transferrable to the traditional 18’s format,” Thomas said.  “If you can mark, kick, handball, chase, tackle, smother in the 9’s, then you can do it in 18’s. It’s only the structures that differ.”

Looking at their squad, there is plenty of experience and many players within the squad will have played at an international level in the 18-a-side format, so the Bulldogs will be comfortable in that aspect.

From their 2016 European Championship winning side, there are 10 players representing Great Britain with only two players in the 28-man squad making their international debuts.

This level of experience will be invaluable for the Bulldogs and will give them a strong platform from which they will aim to produce their best football.

While they would love to retain their title, the Bulldogs are hoping to entertain those watching and put on show the exciting football on offer in Europe.

“Aside from results, our ambitions are to play an exciting and entertaining brand of footy, in the good spirit of the game. It is a chance for our team, and every team competing, to put on a great advertisement for the sport in Europe,” Thomas said.

The Bulldogs will be expecting to go all the way in this year’s European Championships, and with all the experience within the team along with the momentum created from winning the Euro Cup, they will be one of the team’s to beat as they look to be the first team to win back-to-back European Championships.

Angus Boyle – AFL Europe