western bulldogs AFL

Western Bulldogs – Season Preview

Ins – Oskar Baker (Pre-Season Supplemental Selection), Jedd Busslinger (NAB Draft, Pick 13), Charlie Clarke (NAB Draft, Pick 24), Harvey Gallagher (NAB Draft, Pick 39), Liam Jones (Free Agent), Rory Lobb (Trade, Fremantle)


Outs- Louis Butler (Delisted), Zaine Cordy (Free Agent, St Kilda), Josh Dunkley (Trade, Brisbane), Lachie Hunter (Trade, Melbourne), Stefan Martin (Retired), Charlie Parker (Delisted), Josh Schache (Trade, Melbourne), Mitch Wallis (Delisted)


Draw: Based on the new weighted draw brough in for the 2023 season, the Western Bulldogs statistically have the 2nd hardest draw in the competition. The Bulldogs will face Fremantle, Geelong, Gold Coast, GWS, Port Adelaide, and Richmond twice throughout the season.

Forwards: Josh Bruce, Charlie Clarke, Riley Garcia, Jason Johannisen, Arthur Jones, Buku Khamis*, Rory Lobb, Aaron Naughton, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Laitham Vandermeer, Cody Weightman, Rhylee West

Midfielders: Oskar Baker*, Dominic Bedendo, Marcus Bontempelli, Tom Liberatore, Jack Macrae, Robbie McComb*, Toby Mclean, Lachlan McNeil*, Anthony Scott*, Bailey Smith, Roarke Smith*, Adam Treloar

Rucks: Tim English, Jordon Sweet*

Defenders: Jedd Busslinger, Luke Cleary, Hayden Crozier, Bailey Dale, Caleb Daniel, Sam Darcy, Taylor Duryea, Harvey Gallagher, Ryan Gardner, Mitch Hannan, Liam Jones, Alex Keath, Tim O’Brien, Cody Raak*, Ed Richards, Bailey Williams

* Indicates rookie/long-term injury listed player

Ones to watch: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan showed his potential in several games last year. His best is freakish and with another pre-season under his belt, this could be his breakout year. Rory Lobb comes across from the Dockers and will add another contested marking target inside the forward 50 for the Dogs. After a fantastic final, expect Toby McLean to have more midfield minutes this year with Lachie Hunter and Josh Dunkley no longer at the club.

Strengths: The Bulldogs are an extremely tall side. With the inclusion of Rory Lobb, expect Aaron Naughton to have a fantastic year as sides can no longer afford to double team him. Their ball use coming out of their defence is one of the best in the AFL. Caleb Daniel and Bailey Dale are two of the best ball users in the competition, often turning defence into attack in the blink of an eye. Tim English had a career best year in 2022, proving himself as one of the most dominant rucks in the AFL. His work around the ground significantly improved, often taking intercept marks, and also providing a solid target up forward.

Weaknesses: The loss of Josh Dunkley and Lachie Hunter will test the midfield depth of the Bulldogs. Their midfield has consistently been their strength, however, if Bontempelli or English are to go down with injury, they no longer have the depth to cover. Their team defence was poor last year, often giving up many points from quick transitions and often unable to stop the opposition team’s momentum. This was on full display with their capitulation in their final against the Dockers last year, where they blew a 41-point lead. The gap between the Bulldogs best and worst is one of the largest in the competition.

General thoughts:  Liam Jones will be a great inclusion to the Dogs backline. After a year off, he has come back in fantastic condition and will give them the ability to match up better against some of the bigger forwards in the competition. They look to be one of the hardest sides to get a read on this pre-season. They can finish in the top 4, but also could finish well-outside the 8. Expect a big year from Aaron Naughton, finally getting some help up forward with the inclusion of Rory Lobb.

Coach Pressure Gauge – 9/10 – Luke Beveridge enters 2023 for the 9th straight year as the Bulldogs coach. Pressure started to build on Beveridge at the end of 2022, when it looked like they wouldn’t make finals. This is the last year on his contract and it’s hard to see it being renewed if the Bulldogs miss finals in 2022.

Breakout year: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

B&F Winner: Marcus Bontempelli

Fantasy relevant:

Bailey Smith – $935,000 – Mid

Jack Macrae – $916,000 – Mid

Tim English – $901,000 – Ruck

Marcus Bontempelli – $891,000 – Mid

Finishing spot prediction: 11th

Brody is the founder and head of content at Straya Sports. A self-confessed sporting tragic, Brody has covered (and played) nearly every sport imaginable on a variety of different media platforms.

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