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  1. #1
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    Buckenara analyses Western Bulldogs

    Part one

    THE Bulldogs have been crippled by injuries over the last two years and despite missing the finals, this list is capable of playing and winning finals next year.

    Looking at the group of players who missed large chunks of the season – Easton Wood, Liam Picken, Tom Liberatore, Dale Morris, Matt Suckling, Tom Boyd, Tory Dickson, Bailey Dale, Marcus Adams (although he’s now left) and Lin Jong – they’re all good AFL players who add much-needed experience and structure.

    Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae and Hayden Crozier also missed several weeks, which placed further strain on the already very young group.

    Winning the flag in 2016 was a fantastic achievement but the concern I had was whether the fanatical brand of football that took this club to the pinnacle was sustainable. It was always going to be hard to back up that form and game style in 2017 and 2018 but the injury toll has made that task even harder.

    Put those players back into Luke Beveridge’s team for the majority of the season and I’m confident the Bulldogs will rise up the ladder next year and again be a finals threat. I’m bullish about what this club and this list can produce and achieve.

    What the injuries toll has done, however, is exposed some young players to senior level earlier than expected with some surprising – and exciting - results.

    Aaron Naughton was a revelation as a key defender (and at times key forward) and has all the hallmarks of a 200-game player, Ed Richards was outstanding both across halfback and half forward and will only get better and Josh Schache is finally showing signs at AFL level of the talent that earned him the reputation as one of the hottest key position players in his draft year. You don’t get taken with No.2 in the draft for nothing.

    It also provided Toby McLean and Josh Dunkley the opportunity to spend more time in the midfield and thrived, with both players enjoying the best seasons of their young careers. Their development in these roles, and the fact they took on greater responsibility, will hold the club in good stead next year and into the future.

    The reason I’m bullish about this list is that talent and ability doesn’t disappear overnight. It’s the constant grind and adversity that arises during a long and arduous season that challenges players and their will to compete.

    There is some serious talent on this list – Bontempelli, Macrae, Wood, Jason Johannisen, Lachie Hunter, Liberatore, Picken and Morris are all very good players, while Caleb Daniel, Mitch Wallis, Tory Dickson, Tom Boyd, Hayden Crozier, Jackson Trengove and Suckling are all experienced players who have the ability, and have proven before, to be very good contributors.

    Then there are the emerging players led by Naughton, Richards, Dunkley and McLean but they’ve only just scratched the surface of what they can produce. Dale has also shown very good signs but has been hampered by injuries and Tim English should develop, in time, to be a very good AFL ruckman.

    The question for the Bulldogs is: How much do they want to commit to be successful again?

    The answer to that question has already started with premiership players Luke Dahlhaus and Jordan Roughead departing. Clearly both needed a change of scenery to recapture their best and you get the feeling the decision was mutual.

    The Bulldogs had a relatively quiet trade period despite their departure given they wanted Chad Wingard but were beaten by Hawthorn, but did complete some minor deals.

    Former Tiger Sam Lloyd and former Hawk Taylor Duryea should be best 22 players next year and didn’t come at a high price, which is a good result. Dahlhaus will be a loss but he hasn’t produced anywhere near his best footy since the 2016 Grand Final.

    Marcus Adams’ move to Brisbane wasn’t a high-profile trade but I think he leaves a big hole. I really rate him as a key defender. The Bulldogs will probably need to bolster their defensive stocks at the draft now.

    The list is weaker as a result of this year’s trade and free agency period but at least they’ll go to the draft with a strong hand, with three picks in the top 32.
    Tough times don't last, tough people do

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  3. #2
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    Re: Buckenara analyses Western Bulldogs

    Part Two

    WESTERN BULLDOGS’ LIST NEEDS

    The Bulldogs have a young and well-balanced list but should look to inject some class into the midfield and forward lines. The retirement of Jack Redpath means Schache and Tom Boyd are the only two true key position forwards on the list (although Boyd has been used more as a ruckman), so that should be an area to target during the national and rookie drafts, be it for a developing player or looking to bring in a bigger body via the state leagues.

    Conversion in front of goal was an ongoing problem this year, so working on goalkicking will be a priority over the summer. Recruiting players who have good goal sense and are elite kicks will also help in this area.

    After two years out of the finals since winning the premiership in 2016, it’s time for every player on the list to step up next year because this list has more talent that its eight-win season suggests.

    Every player must commit to being the best AFL player they can be, train hard to get their bodies ready for the rigours of a tough season (and thus hopefully avoid injury) and find that hunger and commitment to play as a team and for each other.

    It will be a big season for Tom Liberatore as he returns from his second knee reconstruction, while Matt Suckling struggled at times with his ball use this year – his biggest strength – and will need to become a real leader as one of the most experienced players at the club at 30 years of age.

    What does the future hold for Zaine Cordy and Fletcher Roberts? Both have struggled for consistency since being part of the drought-breaking premiership and haven’t rediscovered that form. It’s now or never for both those players to either step up or have their future and positions questioned.

    CRYSTAL BALL

    There is enough quality and star power on this list that should see this group climb back into contention not only to play finals but to possibly win more silverware – but it’s dependant on whether the group can recapture the fanatical desire to compete that made it a successful team.
    Tough times don't last, tough people do

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  5. #3
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    Re: Buckenara analyses Western Bulldogs

    I wonder if Bucky has had a good look at some of the discussions here?
    There is plenty he has written that has been mentioned here
    Tough times don't last, tough people do

  6. #4
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    Re: Buckenara analyses Western Bulldogs

    Buckenara has some credibility, but in what universe can he question Zaine Cordy, who has been a regular best 22 and strong contributor in the backline.

    Cordy is a team player and if he turns out to be our biggest problem we will be going extremely well.
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  7. #5
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    Re: Buckenara analyses Western Bulldogs

    He has, although I disagree on Cordy - I feel he's been very good for us.
    Western Bulldogs: 2016 Premiers

  8. #6
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    Re: Buckenara analyses Western Bulldogs

    Highlights to me (again) that we need new fitness and conditioning staff when guys like Bucky are banging on about it too. If injuries are our problem, then new people who do things differently is surely a not negotiable. But I doubt we will change them, and do it all over again next year lamenting our bad luck.

    Overall, there's a lot of sense. Although he has no idea about Cordy obviously, mentioning him with Roberts. Zaine should file a defamation suit, he provides a hell of a lot more than Roberts.
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  10. #7
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    Re: Buckenara analyses Western Bulldogs

    Cordy aside, it's a balanced and positive view of our list.
    As BT mentioned, with some tweaks on our fitness and medical approach (it can't always be about bad luck) then I think we can put in a very competitive side each week but to me it all comes down to attitude and work ethic by this playing group.

    Bevo can come up with a good game plan for us so it's all about getting this list fit and focused.
    Tough times don't last, tough people do

  11. #8
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    Re: Buckenara analyses Western Bulldogs

    I feel like there was a similar article last year that was very accurate with it's assessment of the players on our list and then right at the end made one strange call. Maybe that was Buckenara as well?

    The Cordy call is a strange one but aside from that mostly follows the consensus you'd find here.

  12. #9
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    Re: Buckenara analyses Western Bulldogs

    Cordy has only kicked 2 goals since the Premiership, he really needs to pull his finger out.

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  14. #10
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    Re: Buckenara analyses Western Bulldogs

    Quote Originally Posted by Bulldog Joe View Post
    Buckenara has some credibility, but in what universe can he question Zaine Cordy, who has been a regular best 22 and strong contributor in the backline.

    Cordy is a team player and if he turns out to be our biggest problem we will be going extremely well.
    Yep I don't get that at all. Cordy has been good.
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  15. #11
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    Re: Buckenara analyses Western Bulldogs

    I agree in that it's a pretty spot on assessment outside of Cordy. Zaine has been one of the few players that have actively lifted since 2016.

  16. #12
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    Re: Buckenara analyses Western Bulldogs

    He is very thorough in his analysis of the game is Bucky. Not like other writers/journos who only state the obvious and don't have an understanding of the club lists after the top 10 players. He actually drills down on the lists and calls it as he sees it in regards to depth and talent. A very good judge most times although he has missed on Cordy.

  17. #13
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    Re: Buckenara analyses Western Bulldogs

    His Cordy assessment is off the mark as is his high regard for Marcus Adams, that is, Marcus may be theoretically a good player but in practice it just didn't show itself whether through persistent injuries or simply not getting enough continuity to settle into our structure.

    Also, I think Toby McLean has shown enough over his years to be categorised higher than simply being an emerging player.

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  19. #14
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    Re: Buckenara analyses Western Bulldogs

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc26 View Post
    His Cordy assessment is off the mark as is his high regard for Marcus Adams, that is, Marcus may be theoretically a good player but in practice it just didn't show itself whether through persistent injuries or simply not getting enough continuity to settle into our structure.

    Also, I think Toby McLean has shown enough over his years to be categorised higher than simply being an emerging player.
    Toby is emerging, whilst Caleb Daniel is experienced? Mclean is 6 months older than Caleb, although he's played a few less games.

  20. #15
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    Re: Buckenara analyses Western Bulldogs

    Quote Originally Posted by GVGjr View Post
    I wonder if Bucky has had a good look at some of the discussions here?
    There is plenty he has written that has been mentioned here
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