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  1. #1
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    Aaron Naughton has returned for pre-season training

    Aaron Naughton has returned for pre-season training





    ABBA blares through the speakers as Aaron Naughton makes his way around the room, wearing a fluoro parachute tracksuit, a black bum bag and white retro sunglasses.

    It is late November and typically at this time of the year, the Western Bulldogs forward is getting stuck into pre-season training in Melbourne.

    But on this day two months ago, he was back home in the West Australian coastal town of Rockingham, throwing a 1980s disco party to celebrate his 21st birthday with family and friends, including teammate Tim English.

    “I spent my 18th birthday in my first week at the club and in a normal season the first to four-years (players) are back training on November 30, so since being drafted I’ve never got to spend a birthday back home,” Naughton tells the Herald Sun.

    “It was one good thing to come out of the COVID season – the delayed pre-season.

    “The whole night was spent with ‘80s tunes … ABBA’s Gimme Gimme Gimme, a few of The Police’s songs, Footloose, Come on Eileen

    “Everyone dressed up amazing – I like doing themed stuff … and I’ve always liked ‘80s music.

    “It was good fun and a pretty enjoyable night.”

    A month on from when the Bulldogs returned to training and 95 days since their 2020 campaign ended with a three-point elimination final loss to St Kilda, Naughton rejoined pre-season on Wednesday.

    The club gave him a longer break because the WA government initially denied him the chance to return to his home state straight after the season due to its strict COVID rules, given he was coming out of the Gold Coast hub.

    He overcame the frustration of getting knocked back by spending a couple more weeks in Queensland with Marcus Bontempelli, Josh Dunkley and Hayden Crozier, first in Broadbeach and then Noosa.

    “I don’t think we cooked a meal for that whole time because we missed being able to go out, sit down and have a nice meal or a few drinks,” Naughton says.

    “Josh Dunkley has a house up in Noosa … and he has a few jet skis and a boat, so we cruised the river, which was a lot of fun.”

    When they were together, Dunkley told the others he wanted a fresh start at Essendon.

    “He just told us that was what he was thinking but as a teammate and a mate you support him in any decision he makes,” Naughton says.

    “It was a bit of a shock.”

    Naughton had just finished a camping trip in WA a few weeks later when he learnt that not only had Dunkley stayed, but the club had secured Adam Treloar from Collingwood and drafted Jamarra Ugle-Hagan at pick one.

    “I’m rapt and I think the club’s pretty rapt that Dunks is still there,” Naughton says.

    “Once I got back and had reception my phone had blown up saying ‘no way, you’ve got Treloar’.

    “Our midfield was already pretty elite, so to get him, it’ll be pretty fun up forward next year.”

    Naughton had met Ugle-Hagan because the 18-year-old draftee had come through the club’s Next Generation Academy.

    Coach Luke Beveridge is yet to tell them how they will line up this season but former intercept defender Naughton is confident the duo, as well as Josh Bruce, can be a handful for defenders.

    “It’s probably a good thing the coaches are spoiled for choice up in the forward line where a couple of years ago they didn’t have that,” says Naughton, who is coming off 15 goals from 12 matches last season, including six against Adelaide, and 32 majors from 23 games in 2019.

    “Jamarra’s obviously going to be a super talent for the club and we’re all pretty excited about what he does this year.
    “I’m finding my feet more and more each year (in attack), and I’m starting to get the hang of it now.”

    For the 2017 No. 9 draft pick, it will be his first full pre-season.

    He battled groin issues in his opening two years, then had knee surgery last summer that delayed the start to his campaign.

    “To finish the year without any injuries, have a good run in the off-season and freshen up and not be on crutches over Christmas, it’s been nice,” he says.

    Naughton says losing elimination finals in consecutive seasons is proof the club has much to improve on.

    But he shares the optimism of those externally who believe the Dogs are primed for another deep major-round run, four years after their fairytale flag from seventh spot.

    “It’s obviously devastating to make finals and get knocked out straight away because you never know once you have a couple of weeks in the finals what can happen,” he says.

    “Obviously there’s external pressure and belief about our list with players we’ve brought in and players we’ve already got.

    “It’s exciting that people from the outside see our list to be that good and you definitely do believe if we do everything right we’ll deserve to be there come finals.”

    Naughton will be hoping by his next birthday, he is a premiership player.
    "There are Sharks and Minnows in this World and if you don't know which one you are then you aint a Shark"

  2. Thanks azabob, bornadog thanked for this post
  3. #2
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    Re: Aaron Naughton has returned for pre-season training

    Probably our most exciting player when he's up and going. You can't help but love the swagger he brings, fingers crossed he stays fit and goes to the next level this year. Sky's the limit if so.
    Our 1954 premiership players are our heroes, and it has to be said that Charlie was their hero.

  4. #3
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    Re: Aaron Naughton has returned for pre-season training

    Quote Originally Posted by comrade View Post
    Probably our most exciting player when he's up and going. You can't help but love the swagger he brings, fingers crossed he stays fit and goes to the next level this year. Sky's the limit if so.
    If he can stay injury free he will make a huge difference for us in 2021. Forward or back he really makes a difference for us
    "There are Sharks and Minnows in this World and if you don't know which one you are then you aint a Shark"

  5. #4
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    Re: Aaron Naughton has returned for pre-season training

    Hoping for a consistent season from Aaron.

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