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Tuesday, March 30, 2021 - 8:34 PM by Chris Pike

SATURDAY will be a celebration for the South Fremantle Football Club of the premiership achieved in 2020, but for the playing group and coach Todd Curley, they've turned their focus fully onto trying to repeat that success in 2021.

After a year like no other in 2020, South Fremantle ended up breaking through to win the club's first premiership since 2009 on an occasion no one will ever forget with the three-point Grand Final triumph against Claremont at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

Given that season ended up finishing later than normal in October, it has meant a lot of the senior playing group didn’t return for pre-season training until January and the preparations have been a little different as a result than they would have been before this COVID era.

The great positive for South Fremantle coming into 2021 is that not only is the majority of the premiership playing group back ready to defend that flag, but the squad has been strengthened with the returns of Matthew Parker, Cam McCarthy and Steven Edwards, and arrival of Blake Schlensog.

All of that means things are on track as well as could be expected now for Saturday's season-opener against West Perth at Fremantle Community Bank Oval.

South Fremantle premiership coach Todd Curley has been happy with how the preparation has gone and now is looking forward to seeing how the season-opener goes on home turf on Saturday afternoon.

"It has been a different preparation again probably on the back of some forced changes around COVID last year," Curley said.

"I think we all got a good understanding that you probably don’t need to do as much together as you had previously done so pre-Christmas apart from the first and second year players, most of our players didn’t come back until after that. 

"They had their own remote program to do and we stayed in contact online, and it worked well. Similar to the COVID break last year, the boys came back in good shape and for all of us mentally it feels like the season has come around pretty quick but physically we're in good shape. 

"Time will tell but the signs are good so far and we're happy at this stage."

While the premiership triumph last year will be a memory that will stick with Curley, the players, everyone else involved and the supporters and fans of the Bulldogs, there is now a job at hand with the new season to focus on.

Curley hasn’t necessarily noticed it's changed things in terms of the attitude of anyone who were part of the premiership, but he does expect it to give them some added self-belief that are actually capable of achieving the ultimate when challenges arrive.

"Like anything you move forward pretty quick and you don’t dwell on those sort of things really until you finish your time in the game. But certainly has given the players who have been around the club quite a long time that were part of the success a real sense of confidence," Curley said.

"Until you win one I think you think you know what it's going to mean to you, but until it happens you don’t really understand. I think the overwhelming feedback is that the feeling is a lot better than they thought it would be and they also now have the confidence they can do it. 

"It's not a question of can we do it, they now know they can if they bring their best. They've got a taste of it and they've still trained really hard, and they are keen to experience it again if they can."

While there is a premiership celebration planned by the club pre-game on Saturday at Fremantle Community Bank Oval, Curley is taking more of the approach for himself and the players that they need to focus on the job at hand.

"I think they've had plenty of time to savour the moment to be honest but we haven’t even looked that far ahead. I'm not even sure if we'll be out on the ground when all that happens or if we'll still be downstairs," Curley said. 

"It was a great day for the footy club but we are eager to work hard and get ourselves an opportunity to experience it again. We are certainly looking forward at this stage and there'll be plenty of time when we are all retired and sitting back to reflect on our achievements."

Curley is also feeling like there is a connection between South Fremantle and the Fremantle community and the club's supporters and members like never before after the way everyone pulled together last year.

He believes that will carry over into this year as well and it's something he takes seriously in terms of the responsibility a WAFL club has in the community.

"I think you could see in the back half of last year how important footy was to the whole community I think," Curley said. 

"There's a lot more people than just the players and coaches that are involved, you have the families of those players and coaches, the supporters and I think that's an important thing in the community to have up and going. 

"Our membership has almost reached the level that it did at the end of last year already, and we are chasing 3000 members and are almost three quarters of the way there. 

"We are hopeful that we can get start off in the right foot during the season and a lot more people can enjoy coming to watch us play, and sign up as members. 

"It will be a different season and it's going to be an adjustment to the players to get used to playing almost another entire quarter of footy compared to last year, and then there are the rule changes to get used to as well. 

"We get to play everyone twice so it's going to be good and fair, and I'm expecting it to be a really even competition this year and we're looking forward to getting started."