Clay Smith of the Western Bulldogs celebrates a goal in round 23 against the Dockers.
Clay Smith of the Western Bulldogs celebrates a goal in round 23 against the Dockers. TONY MCDONOUGH

Dogs onballer keen to do the dirty work

AFL: Three knee reconstructions in as many years have not stopped Western Bulldogs onballer Clay Smith from putting his body on the line.

The 23-year-old will do it all again when the Dogs take on reigning three-time premier Hawthorn in a do-or-die semi-final at the MCG on Friday night.

Smith's average of seven tackles and a goal a game this season has made him an important part of the Dogs' line-up and he has needed to step up with Luke Beveridge's team suffering a string of injuries to key men over the past couple of months.

He has put his own injury worries behind him this season and is aiming to help the Bulldogs cause another upset after their defeat of West Coast in last week's elimination final.

"You tend to forget them (the knee injuries) pretty quick and it's probably a good thing to forget,” he said.

"I think you've just got to play to your strengths, and it (physical pressure) is an area I think I can help the team out.

"If I can put my body in there, crash around and knock a few blokes over, then that's what I want to do.”

Smith will have to be at his best against a Hawks midfield that includes four stars of the game in Luke Hodge, Sam Mitchell, Shaun Burgoyne and Jordan Lewis, and he knows it will be tough

"I think both sides will go out pretty hard because finals are pretty much a contested game of footy and it will be one area of the game we hopefully come out on top,” he said.

"They're a good side and I'm sure they'll bring the heat after the loss on the weekend.

"It will be a good battle.”


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