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  1. #1
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    How the Western Bulldogs hit the jackpot in the 2012 AFL national draft and won the flag four years later

    How the Western Bulldogs hit the jackpot in the 2012 AFL national draft and won the flag four years later



    Footy expert Scott Gullan delves deep into the Western Bulldogs’ brilliant 2012 draft strategy for the first of his four-part series – The Draft Masters.

    In the Hollywood movie ‘Draft Day’, Kevin Costner plays the role of the Cleveland Browns general manager who has the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.

    The movie follows his every move on draft day as he wrestles with the decision of who the struggling franchise should take with the coveted pick.

    One of the first scenes in the film has Costner writing a name down on a small piece of paper and putting it in his pocket.

    That’s who he wants to pick but he knows in the ensuing hours there will be dozens of different scenarios thrown at him.

    The piece of paper is a reminder of what his gut is telling him.

    In 2012, Simon Dalrymple was Kevin Costner.

    The Western Bulldogs recruiting manager had the biggest decision his club had faced in years with back-to-back selections inside the top six of the national draft.

    There were three players the Dogs were focused on for the No. 5 and No. 6 picks – Jake Stringer, Jackson Macrae and Ollie Wines.

    By the time draft day came around on the Gold Coast, there was a consensus that Stringer’s name would be the first called out by the Dogs that night.

    They’d put a lot of work into the rough-and-ready kid from Bendigo who oozed X-factor despite some physical issues stemming from a broken leg the previous year.

    But what they were going to do with the No. 6 pick – which they’d acquired from the GWS Giants for Callan Ward – was causing major internal divisions.

    Bulldogs coach Brendan McCartney loved big-bodied country boys and Wines ticked all those boxes.

    Macrae was a private schoolboy with elite decision-making skills who’d been a late developer.

    The pair had been at the centre of many heated debates at the Whitten Oval in the weeks leading into the draft.

    Now with just a few hours remaining, McCartney played his hand and declared he wanted Wines. It was a provocative move and caused some of the recruiting team to sway in their thinking.

    Chief executive Simon Garlick intervened and declared the final decision would be made by the man who’d spent all year profiling the prospects.

    Dalrymple told them he needed to go for a walk and would inform everyone of his final decision when they arrived at the draft.

    While he mightn’t have had a piece of paper in his pocket like Costner, as he walked along the beach taking in the Queensland sun Dalrymple knew who he had to take.

    THE KID WITH THE LIMP

    The first time the Western Bulldogs interviewed Jake Stringer was in Italy, a cafe overlooking the water near Milan.

    It was foreign territory in more ways than one with the club rarely splashing out cash for such trips but with the 2012 draft looming as a game-changer Simon Dalrymple was part of the entourage on the annual AIS tour of Europe.

    It was the perfect opportunity to observe the best juniors in the country, up close and personal and out of their comfort zones.

    Stringer was described as “30 going on 17”, he had a charm and swagger about him which was endearing but there were some physical complications.

    He’d broken his leg badly in 2011 and had developed a noticeable limp when he played.

    “We watched him a couple of times in the VFL and he was super effective but he still had the limp which put people off,” McCartney explains.

    “They were thinking this kid is not going to be able to run around an AFL ground but what had happened was that his rehab had focused around upper body fitness.

    “He’d done swimming, boxing and lifting weights but he hadn’t done any leg stuff and certain muscle groups had switched off.”

    The rules were a bit more relaxed than they are now in terms of interaction with prospective draftees so the Dogs had Stringer come into the club for special testing on the leg.

    They filmed his running gait and quickly realised it was something that could be fixed.

    Stringer had played with Bendigo in the TAC Cup and Vic Country in the national championships.

    But it was some standout performances for Bendigo in the VFL which won over the Dogs.

    He was manhandling AFL listed defenders which endeared him to the coach.

    “Once we took the physical risk out of it, we were pretty confident he was going to be there,” McCartney said.

    THE CRUCIAL CALL

    Jackson Macrae wasn’t deemed good enough to play TAC Cup at 17.

    He’d missed out on making the Oakleigh Chargers squad and had to wait until his second eligible year to get a crack in the AFL pathway.

    Macrae quickly made up for lost time with his decision-making and creativity by hand seeing him rocket up draft boards.

    There was a steely inner-belief which struck recruiters and while he may have been a late developer, there was substance about him which Dalrymple liked.

    When the Bulldogs contingent sat down at the draft, their intel suggested there wasn’t going to be any curveballs from the GWS Giants and Melbourne who were picking before them.

    And their mail was right.

    The Giants selected Lachie Whitfield at No. 1, Jonathan O’Rourke at No. 2 and Lachie Plowman at No. 3 while the Demons went with South Australia’s Jimmy Toumpas.

    Stringer’s name was read out next and then Dalrymple did a Costner and went with his gut, selecting Macrae ahead of Wines.

    The potential for more upside was the clincher but it was a line ball.

    “There was a lot of debate because we had to get it right,” McCartney recalls.

    “We were pretty clear about the type of people we wanted.

    “History shows they have all turned out to be really good people, great players and great footy club blokes.”

    But the Dogs couldn’t relax just yet as they were trying to orchestrate a way to get father-son prospect Lachie Hunter on the cheap.

    They’d already nominated him and were hoping to use their third-round pick, No. 49, rather than their second round selection.

    It had been an orchestrated campaign and one that rival North Melbourne was onto.

    Given the son of former defender Mark Hunter had already committed to the Dogs, it was suggested there was no need to catch the eye at the AFL Combine.

    Despite his strength being his elite endurance – he’d been in club record territory when the Dogs had tested him – Lachie pulled out of the beep test early doors.

    It was a fact not lost on the Kangaroos with coach Brad Scott questioning Hunter’s motives in an interview afterwards.

    He hadn’t helped his situation by then going out and winning the agility test at the Combine, his reasoning was simple – there was a cash prize on offer from the NAB for that one.

    Thankfully North selected Taylor Garner at No. 15 which meant their bid for Hunter wasn’t until their next selection at No. 37.

    This allowed the Dogs could use its second round pick (No. 21) on Nathan Hrovat with the No. 49 enough to match the Roos and get Hunter.

    The Bulldogs then finished off the night by officially elevating rookie Jason Johannisen to the senior list at selection 105 in the draft.

    He’d been at the club for two years after being found in the East Fremantle Colts where his leg speed and ability to “glide across the ground” had shone out.

    Even when he was playing VFL reserves in 2011, the Dogs could see there was something different about him and Johannisen made his debut late in the 2012 season.

    That night as the Dogs hierarchy sat down for a well-earned beer, the excitement was obvious in the group.

    McCartney had spent part of the evening sitting next to Macrae and his father, David, and came away with a big thumbs up.

    Four years later from the seven selections made on the Gold Coast that night by the Western Bulldogs, four were premiership players, one a Norm Smith Medallist.

    No. 5 - JAKE STRINGER

    No. 6 - JACK MACRAE

    No. 49 - (FATHER/SON) - LACHIE HUNTER

    No. 105 - (ROOKIE ELEVATION) - JASON JOHANNISEN

  2. #2
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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs hit the jackpot in the 2012 AFL national draft and won the flag four years later

    I love these draft machinations. Plenty of spirited discussions

    I still have a read the 1995 article about Forward Planning from time to time
    I think it would be a very interesting time to sit in on some of those discussions
    "There are Sharks and Minnows in this World and if you don't know which one you are then you aint a Shark"

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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs hit the jackpot in the 2012 AFL national draft and won the flag four years later

    A great draft year for us.

    It's a shame Stringer turned out to be a dickhead, otherwise we really ended up with some top players.
    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: How the Western Bulldogs hit the jackpot in the 2012 AFL national draft and won the flag four years later

    I don't mind Ollie Wines at all, but he's no Jack Macrae.

    Thank god Dalrymple stuck to his guns on that one.

    That tidbit about Lachie Hunter nailing the agility test because there was cash on the line is pretty funny and on brand too.
    Our 1954 premiership players are our heroes, and it has to be said that Charlie was their hero.

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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs hit the jackpot in the 2012 AFL national draft and won the flag four years later

    Not sure JJ counts but I love reading about the thought processes they go through in the draft. Would've liked a bit more info on the Horvat selection too, and who else we considered.
    I should leave it alone but you're not right

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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs hit the jackpot in the 2012 AFL national draft and won the flag four years later

    Quote Originally Posted by soupaman View Post
    Not sure JJ counts but I love reading about the thought processes they go through in the draft. Would've liked a bit more info on the Horvat selection too, and who else we considered.
    I had high hopes for Hrovat, I thought he would make it.
    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: How the Western Bulldogs hit the jackpot in the 2012 AFL national draft and won the flag four years later

    Picks 2, 3 and 4 all disappointed didn't they?
    "There are Sharks and Minnows in this World and if you don't know which one you are then you aint a Shark"

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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs hit the jackpot in the 2012 AFL national draft and won the flag four years later

    Imagine if we had taken Wines and Macrae instead of Stringer and Macrae. I still believe Stringer was lucky to get a game in the final series. His input then is still being replicated at Essendon on a weekly basis.
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  11. #9
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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs hit the jackpot in the 2012 AFL national draft and won the flag four years later

    Quote Originally Posted by soupaman View Post
    Not sure JJ counts but I love reading about the thought processes they go through in the draft. Would've liked a bit more info on the Horvat selection too, and who else we considered.
    I can recall going to a players sponsors function and I got the impression he was very pleased the JJ selection
    "There are Sharks and Minnows in this World and if you don't know which one you are then you aint a Shark"

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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs hit the jackpot in the 2012 AFL national draft and won the flag four years later

    "The Giants selected Lachie Whitfield at No. 1, Jonathan O’Rourke at No. 2 and Lachie Plowman at No. 3 while the Demons went with South Australia’s Jimmy Toumpas."

    Jeepers

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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs hit the jackpot in the 2012 AFL national draft and won the flag four years later

    Quote Originally Posted by bulldogsthru&thru View Post
    "The Giants selected Lachie Whitfield at No. 1, Jonathan O’Rourke at No. 2 and Lachie Plowman at No. 3 while the Demons went with South Australia’s Jimmy Toumpas."

    Jeepers
    I remember all those guys (other than Whitfield, the consensus no. 1) being possibilities for our picks. O'Rourke in particular was a massive bust. Talls picked high in the draft are more risky but mids taken at the pointy end should be solid players at an absolute minimum.

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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs hit the jackpot in the 2012 AFL national draft and won the flag four years later

    Just goes to show what a lottery this year's draft is. Jacko wasn't even on the radar in his underage year.
    Our 1954 premiership players are our heroes, and it has to be said that Charlie was their hero.

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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs hit the jackpot in the 2012 AFL national draft and won the flag four years later

    Quote Originally Posted by comrade View Post
    Just goes to show what a lottery this year's draft is. Jacko wasn't even on the radar in his underage year.
    So glad we have JUH as our pick.
    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: How the Western Bulldogs hit the jackpot in the 2012 AFL national draft and won the flag four years later

    Quote Originally Posted by comrade View Post
    Just goes to show what a lottery this year's draft is. Jacko wasn't even on the radar in his underage year.
    Some clubs are going to end up with bargains later in the draft/rookie draft. If the recruiter has a good gut feel like Dalrymple their club could make out like bandits.

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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs hit the jackpot in the 2012 AFL national draft and won the flag four years later

    Quote Originally Posted by GVGjr View Post
    I can recall going to a players sponsors function and I got the impression he was very pleased the JJ selection
    And so he should be but by my reckoning JJ should be written up in the "How the Bulldogs nailed the Rookie draft in 2010" with Luke Dahlhaus, putting him in this one is just double dipping.
    I should leave it alone but you're not right

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