Inspiring, down-to-earth and helpful.
These are the words Dale Morris’s Western Bulldogs teammates use to describe the man who’ll play his 200th game in the red, white and blue this weekend.
Like most 200-gamers, the 32-year-old has had plenty of personal challenges over the journey.
He started his AFL career on the rookie list before forging a reputation as an undersized key defender – at 190cm, Morris is shorter than midfielders like Scott Pendlebury and David Mundy – who’d seemingly always find a way to hold his own against the game’s power forwards. An All-Australian in 2008, Morris suffered a horrific broken leg in 2011.
“To me, personally, he’s been a big inspiration. He came off the rookie list, like myself, and has had to endure a lot through his injuries.” – Lin Jong on Dale Morris
Up-and-coming Bulldogs midfielder Lin Jong told aflplayers.com.au this week that he’s learned a lot from Morris’s experiences.
“To me, personally, he’s been a big inspiration,” Jong said.
“He came off the rookie list, like myself, and has had to endure a lot through his injuries.”
Jong’s not the only player to have taken inspiration from Morris.
“I think the impression all players get of Dale when they first come to the club is just how much of a great bloke he is. He’s very genuine and tries to get to know everyone at the club.”
In recent years, Morris has worked closely with young defender Michael Talia.
“Ever since I walked in to the club 4 years ago this guys been my mentor and given so much of his time to help me get better,” Talia wrote on Instagram.
“Haven’t seen a more resilient and hard-working person, with the amount of injury setbacks he’s had to endure he’s always come back better with a smile on his face. Don’t think there’s been a harder earned 200 games at the kennel. Great achievement by a terrific footballer and even better bloke.”
As Morris said earlier this week, he’s never been the type to attract attention.
“My role is team oriented and doesn’t stand out to umpires and spectators. But it’s what my teammates think of me that I value most.”
Though he’s rarely the centre of attention, it’s clear what Morris’s teammates think of him.
“On the field, he’s just someone you can rely on,” Jong said.
“You know he will give his all to get the job done.”