Former Western Bulldogs forward Travis Cloke says the club battled to cope with the focus placed by opposition clubs on disrupting their play-style in 2017.
The Western Bulldogs sent shockwaves through the competition by winning the 2016 premiership following a remarkable finals campaign, winning four straight matches as the underdogs.
Cloke, who was recruited to the Whitten Oval after spending 12 seasons at Collingwood, feels as though the Dogs won their flag prematurely.
“It’s an unusual one,” he said on SEN Breakfast.
“They had just won a premiership, the boys were on a high, a very young side.
“They probably won it ahead of their time. They had six weeks of fantastic footy in 2016 and I think that really did it for them.
“Then I think the hype was there for them in 2017 and we just couldn’t pull it together.
“Great bunch of blokes, great coaching staff, people that really wanted to win again but I guess just the opposition really picked up on the way the Western Bulldogs played their football.
“They stopped them from playing that manic, contested brand of footy. It is a hard brand of football to play week in, week out.
“It just took its toll a little bit too much in the 2017 season.”
Cloke spent the 2017 season at the Bulldogs, playing 10 games and kicking 11 goals, before choosing to retire at the conclusion of the season.