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  1. #1
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    Season Preview: Eight Reasons Why The Bulldogs Can Get Excited in 2019

    Whoa, an unexpected dose of optimism from the Herald Sun:
    https://www.heraldsun.com.au/sport/a...b10d65?login=1

    It’s been downhill for the Western Bulldogs since the 2016 premiership but there were enough signs late last season pointing to a climb up the ladder in 2019.

    CHRIS CAVANAGH takes a look at where the Bulldogs will improve this year.

    EIGHT REASONS WHY THE BULLDOGS CAN GET EXCITED
    1. THERE WERE SIGNS

    The Bulldogs’ start to the 2018 season was horrid, kickstarted by an 82-point defeat at the hands of Greater Western Sydney. However, most of the back half of the season was a little better as the young side began to grow. From Round 6 onwards, the Bulldogs went 7-10, after a 1-4 start to their campaign. They won three of their last four matches, the sole loss in August coming against 2017 premier Richmond by three points in the final round. While inconsistency week-to-week and within games still hurt on occasion, there were enough positive signs shown later in the season that gives the side something to build on.

    2. PREMIERSHIP PLAYERS

    We are entering the third season since the Bulldogs’ breakthrough premiership in 2016, and there has been some change from that side. The likes of Jake Stringer (Essendon) and Luke Dahlhaus (Geelong) have moved on, but 15 of those premiership players still remain. That is a lot more premiership experience than many clubs have and should hold the Bulldogs in good stead after a couple of down years. There is talent there that knows what it takes to climb to the competition’s pinnacle — it just has to action that once again.

    3. JOSH SCHACHE

    There was a reason this young forward was taken at pick 2 in the 2015 national draft and we finally started to see that in patches last season. After struggling through his second year at Brisbane in 2017, Schache rediscovered some form after getting a fresh start back home in Victoria with the Bulldogs. The 21-year-old played 13 games, averaging 4.1 marks and kicking 17 goals. Schache revealed in mid-November he had already added 4.7kg in the gym to help fill out his 199cm frame, knowing he needed to be stronger in marking contests. Key position players take time, but entering his fourth season it is time for Schache to shine.

    4. SAM LLOYD

    He was far from the biggest name to move clubs during the AFL’s free agency and trade period, but former Richmond utility Sam Lloyd could prove a very handy pick up. At 28 years old, he provides a mature body in a young side and has grown into a versatile player after starting his AFL career as a mid-size marking forward. Lloyd has spent the majority of the past two seasons starring for Richmond’s VFL side as a goalkicking midfielder, averaging 25 disposals and six tackles while kicking 14 goals from 11 games last season. He might have found it hard to earn a regular spot in a dominant Richmond side the past two years — playing just 15 AFL games — but expect Lloyd to play plenty of senior football with the Bulldogs next year.

    5. FRIENDLY FIXTURE

    Finishing 13th on the ladder does have some perks, namely receiving a very kind fixture the following year as the Bulldogs have for 2019. Champion Data ranks the Bulldogs draw as the fifth-easiest of any side next season with double-up games against Carlton, Brisbane, Fremantle, Geelong and Collingwood. On paper, that stacks up a lot better than the 2018 double-up opponents of West Coast, Port Adelaide, Melbourne, North Melbourne and Carlton, against whom Luke Beveridge’s side went 3-7.

    6. SUCKLING RETURN

    In 2017, Matthew Suckling ranked second at the Bulldogs for kicks, rebound-50s, inside-50s and marks. The side loves to get the ball in Suckling’s hands — and on his booming left foot — but didn’t have that option as much last season as the defender missed the last 11 rounds with an achilles injury. The good news is the two-time Hawthorn premiership player is back running and building nicely towards a strong finish to the pre-season, confident the injury will not give him any further problems. While Suckling is now 30 years old, he and the Bulldogs will be hoping there is plenty of good footy left in him.


    7. LIAM PICKEN

    A second big concussion in 12 months during a pre-season match in March put premiership forward Liam Picken on the sidelines for the entire 2018 season. Immediately ruled out indefinitely, there was hope of a mid-season return but that never eventuated as headaches and other side effects lingered. However, Picken has been back in training and is determined to make a return to the field next season. The 32-year-old played all 22 games in 2017, averaging 18.6 disposals, 6.2 score involvements and kicking 24 goals. The 198-game veteran also brings plenty of experience and leadership to a young forward line, his return certain to make a difference.

    8. RISING STARS

    The Western Bulldogs’ two first-round picks from the 2017 national draft certainly made an impact in their debut seasons. Key defender Aaron Naughton debuted in Round 1 and went on to play 18 games, averaging 11.6 disposals and 4.3 marks to earn a Rising Star nomination in the final round. Fellow defender Ed Richards, the grand-nephew of Collingwood great Lou, also showed plenty, playing 21 games and averaging 13.6 disposals to also earn a Rising Star nomination in Round 10. Along with the likes of Tim English, Patrick Lipinski and Josh Dunkley — fellow high draft picks from the previous two drafts — there is plenty of emerging young talent in the wings to get excited about.

    TAB ODDS

    Premiership: $51

    Top-8: $4

    Most losses: $15

    TRAJECTORY

    2014: 14th (7-15)

    2015: 6th (14-8, elimination final)

    2016: 7th (15-7, premier)

    2017: 10th (11-11)

    2018: 13th (8-14)

    THE NUMBER: 7

    The Bulldogs strength is their midfield, rated seventh in the competition. The concern is over the forward half, which is ranked 15th for quality, with only four permanent forwards who have played 10 matches over the last two years.

    Source: CHAMPION DATA

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  3. #2
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    Re: Season Preview: Eight Reasons Why The Bulldogs Can Get Excited in 2019

    7. Liam Picken ? I think the HUN forgot about one of the clearance machines of the AFL - LIBBA
    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

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    Re: Season Preview: Eight Reasons Why The Bulldogs Can Get Excited in 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by bornadog View Post
    7. Liam Picken ? I think the HUN forgot about one of the clearance machines of the AFL - LIBBA
    Huge potential for Libba to have a big 2019. Will be great to have him and Picko back. Someone like Picko gives us that experience. Sure we have a young side but we certainly have experience around particularly with us getting Lloyd and Duryea. Just now for no injuries.
    AFL PREMIERS 2016

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    Re: Season Preview: Eight Reasons Why The Bulldogs Can Get Excited in 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by The Adelaide Connection View Post
    Whoa, an unexpected dose of optimism from the Herald Sun:
    I am incredibly optimistic...but when they list VFL players, players in their 30's returning from serious concussion issues, a fixture we have no idea about AND a 30-year old half back (again, returning from injury who missed selection in the 2016 premiership) as 50% of those reasons I am wondering if I should reconsider my position.
    What should I tell her? She's going to ask.

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    Re: Season Preview: Eight Reasons Why The Bulldogs Can Get Excited in 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by mjp View Post
    I am incredibly optimistic...but when they list VFL players, players in their 30's returning from serious concussion issues, a fixture we have no idea about AND a 30-year old half back (again, returning from injury who missed selection in the 2016 premiership) as 50% of those reasons I am wondering if I should reconsider my position.
    I am with you on the optimism.

    Clearly there was a brief to write an upbeat column, but they have shown limited knowledge in the report.

    I think most of us could give a few additional reasons missing from the report.
    Life is to be Enjoyed not Endured

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    Re: Season Preview: Eight Reasons Why The Bulldogs Can Get Excited in 2019

    Two of the biggest boosts we should receive have been overlooked - Libba and Bailey Williams in the midfield.

    With all due respect to Roarke Smith, Duryea is an upgrade so there's an instant improvement as well. I'm bullish on Schache as well, as mentioned above.
    Western Bulldogs: 2016 Premiers

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    Re: Season Preview: Eight Reasons Why The Bulldogs Can Get Excited in 2019

    Excellent points Mofra.
    Yep I'm bullish on the season ahead as well.

    Schache, Williams, Liberatore and Dunkley all having something special to offer us in 2019.
    Lloyd and Duryea will add depth and hopefully Suckling can get back close to the form he displayed in 2018.

    All looks good to me
    Tough times don't last, tough people do

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    Re: Season Preview: Eight Reasons Why The Bulldogs Can Get Excited in 2019

    There's much to be positive about in terms of players. Everyone needs to be positive at this time of the year. The question marks for me, which time will tell, is the coach playing players in their best positions and a gameplan that makes the most of the players we have. If these things are right this year, and our fitness & conditioning staff do their job properly, then I think finals at a minimum should be the goal.
    I drank the slab that Bon Scott drunk
    I injected some of Hendrixs junk
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    Re: Season Preview: Eight Reasons Why The Bulldogs Can Get Excited in 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by bulldogtragic View Post
    ...is the coach playing players in their best positions...
    Apart from the Easton Wood thing, I think Bevo does this...

    I know this quote thing makes it sounds like I am 'having a go' at you BT but that isn't the intent. I have gotten the feeling over the past 18-months that the overwhelming opinion of this forum is that the coach keeps playing guys 'out of position'...who in particular and where should they play?

    If people want to criticise the coach for not preparing the squad well after the 2016 season, then I'm with them...but I don't get this 'played out of position' thing. I have been frustrated at team selections (particularly lack of running players) but on at least some of those occasions, there really was no-one else available...and (as we saw near the end of last year), some of the time the teams that seemed the least 'balanced' on paper were still successful because our best players decided to take the game over...
    What should I tell her? She's going to ask.

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    Re: Season Preview: Eight Reasons Why The Bulldogs Can Get Excited in 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by mjp View Post
    I know this quote thing makes it sounds like I am 'having a go' at you BT but that isn't the intent. I have gotten the feeling over the past 18-months that the overwhelming opinion of this forum is that the coach keeps playing guys 'out of position'...who in particular and where should they play?
    I think Bevo has done this with a quite a few players (ignoring the Wood debacle), either out of necessity and (moreso this year) a desire to see where our list is at.

    JJ is another obvious 'failure' when played elsewhere - he's a middling wingman or an outstanding HB. Part of begin played elsewhere is to develop the part of his game where he breaks the lock-down player on him.

    Dunkley is not much of a forward - however his work in tandem with Bonti over the past 4-6 weeks of the season shows he's going to be an excellent inside mid (Bont's contested numbers fell from 50% to 33% when Dunkley went into the centre, coinciding with out best football of the year).

    Zaine played forward in 2016 out of sheer necessity - he was outstanding as a defensive forward in the West Coast elimination final and basically bought his spot for the rest of the finals series in one night. His future clearly lies as a backman.

    Naughton is a backman, but he spent time forward as we desperately needed a contested marking option there (and he's the best on our list already) and we had 57 defenders as our only other fit options. It helped his development too.

    Bailey Williams spent about 4 weeks this year as statistically most effective backmen in the competition but was transitioned into the midfield as that's where his future lies, but the end of his year I'd say it's a raging success.

    Ed Richards we playing well as a HBFer but was shifted forward and onto the wing, I honestly preferred him on a wing by the end of the season. That's a win.

    Mitch Wallis proved to be a very effective forward after teams worked him out at the centre bounces. He's our new Clay Smith, forward stoppages specialist who shows some surprising smarts with positioning.

    Even Caleb Daniel to the backline seemed to work after he has played most of his football as a high forward taking the occasional centre rotation.

    One thing I never ever ever (ever) want to see again - Bontempelli taking a ruck contest. Ever. You don't get a Rolls Royce to plow a field.
    Western Bulldogs: 2016 Premiers

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    Re: Season Preview: Eight Reasons Why The Bulldogs Can Get Excited in 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by mjp View Post
    Apart from the Easton Wood thing, I think Bevo does this...

    I know this quote thing makes it sounds like I am 'having a go' at you BT but that isn't the intent. I have gotten the feeling over the past 18-months that the overwhelming opinion of this forum is that the coach keeps playing guys 'out of position'...who in particular and where should they play?

    If people want to criticise the coach for not preparing the squad well after the 2016 season, then I'm with them...but I don't get this 'played out of position' thing. I have been frustrated at team selections (particularly lack of running players) but on at least some of those occasions, there really was no-one else available...and (as we saw near the end of last year), some of the time the teams that seemed the least 'balanced' on paper were still successful because our best players decided to take the game over...

    Boyd not playing forward adds to the argument.

    I think the “out of position” thing is overdone too, but a couple of high profile moves have built it into folklore.

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    Re: Season Preview: Eight Reasons Why The Bulldogs Can Get Excited in 2019

    I can feel a big year in my bones.

    The changes to the team, particularly the outs, feel like the right decisions. We've cut into a lot of that recurring injury, hampered by injury narrative. Fingers crossed what has come in & what we have already can stay fit. Personnel wise we're going into the season in better shape. I'm confident we'll get improvement from enough players and more of the same from some solid performers to swing things back in the right direction.

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    Re: Season Preview: Eight Reasons Why The Bulldogs Can Get Excited in 2019

    When you have players that promise such a strong 2019 season like Schache, Williams, Dunkley, English, Lipinski, Naughton, Richards and Gowers it's almost impossible for me to not get excited about the season ahead. There is plenty of hard work for our list but I think there are plenty of positives in front of us.
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    Re: Season Preview: Eight Reasons Why The Bulldogs Can Get Excited in 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by GVGjr View Post
    When you have players that promise such a strong 2019 season like Schache, Williams, Dunkley, English, Lipinski, Naughton, Richards and Gowers it's almost impossible for me to not get excited about the season ahead. There is plenty of hard work for our list but I think there are plenty of positives in front of us.
    I am strongly with you on this, with particular emphasis on the expected improvement in contribution from Schache, Williams, Dunkley and English.

    If we get that, I also see it becoming much easier for Bontempelli to be an enormous influence.

    The centre square rule has me seeing Bont gathering in the centre and delivering the ball deep into the 50 better than any player in the comp. It is not unreasonable to think that he will kick goals directly just from the centre clearance on occasions.
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    Re: Season Preview: Eight Reasons Why The Bulldogs Can Get Excited in 2019

    Quote Originally Posted by MrMahatma View Post
    Boyd not playing forward adds to the argument.
    I have watched pretty much every game Tom Boyd has ever played.

    Boyd in the RUCK >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Boyd as a forward.

    Of course, the argument is going to come back 'If he would just leave him there...'.

    Well, if he would just leave him there then what? He hasn't played well as a forward at AFL level. He doesn't lead hard enough - sure as certain doesn't hit the logos - and drops too many marks.

    I think Bevo has played Boyd in absolutely the right position...the problem has been he is injured/unavailable ALL THE TIME so hasn't gotten any continuity (hence confidence) with his footy.
    What should I tell her? She's going to ask.

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