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    How the Western Bulldogs have set Ugle-Hagan up for success

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    Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge had long sought greater understanding from the wider football world about how the club had handled young star Jamarra Ugle-Hagan.

    Beveridge, at times, was frustrated with the regular questioning about Ugle-Hagan, whether that be last year, when he managed only five games in his debut season, or through last summer when expectations again rose after the tall, rangy forward had trained closely with Marcus Bontempelli.

    Those questions came largely because the boy from Framlingham in south-west Victoria, via Scotch College and Oakleigh Chargers, had been the No. 1 draft pick in 2020, meaning the focus - as Jason Horne-Francis has discovered this year - can become overbearing for all parties.

    “Let’s [look at] someone like Jack Riewoldt or Tom Hawkins and how long it took players who are now elite key forwards in the game. It’s not going to happen straight away and overnight,” an exasperated Beveridge said in March.

    The 2016 premiership coach was right, and the reward came last Saturday when Ugle-Hagan, 20, delivered a career-high five goals, including three in the final term, to topple Melbourne at Marvel Stadium.

    The performance also won the Bulldogs plaudits for the way they had handled his development. Former Geelong premiership star Mathew Stokes, who first met Ugle-Hagan when he was 15 and has been involved with him through the Flying Boomerangs program, and Brisbane Lions great and now Seven commentator Chris Johnson, who speaks regularly with Ugle-Hagan, said the man known as “Marra” now had the platform to build from.

    “When you become the No.1 draft pick and you see everyone else getting regular games ... for anyone, let alone being a No.1 draft pick, you see other people that you played against in school footy and NAB League, I guess you get frustrated,” Johnson said.

    “What has been really good is that he has had the support around him, not just around the football club, but his mother and father, a lot of his family. And even some of the people that he has met through Scotch College, some of those people have been a really good support to him as well. Now it’s just about Jamarra putting that work in.

    “Someone like him can be a big asset to the game, like we have seen Lance [Franklin] do. He has been compared to Lance [Ugle-Hagan’s idol] many times already, and he is only early days into his career. For a young man, that is a lot of pressure, but I think he has handled the pressure pretty good.”

    Stokes told The Age’s Real Footy podcast that the football world needed to remember there was “a big difference between the No.1 midfielder and the No.1 draft pick who is a key forward”.

    “I do think what we are seeing on the back end of that is, it takes time to develop, find their way, learn their body, learn how to play against blokes that are bigger than them, because their whole careers, they have probably been the biggest player. It’s been easy to get a kick,” Stokes said.

    Beveridge, in March, had said the reasons expectations needed to be tempered were “quite obvious”. To those who had watched Ugle-Hagan closely, they were about his match fitness/work rate and physicality.

    John Atchison, Ugle-Hagan’s coach from his junior days at South Warrnambool Football Netball Club, said his former charge had always been athletically gifted with football nous and “had always been thirsty to learn”. However, suddenly requiring the physical strength to play against men was a different story.

    “He had played only one game of senior footy prior to being drafted. He missed those years with COVID. He was able to play school footy, of course, but he never got the opportunity to play senior footy at South Warrnambool. He got one with his dad at East Warrnambool,” Atchison said.

    “He was a kid who was able to be quicker, he was better athletically than the kids he was playing against, but then when you play against men, they are physically stronger. It is hard when you are getting held, dragged and pushed.

    “You watch him in a VFL match - they are checking his run, blocking his run, and they move the ball sideways, backwards, and all of a sudden the 50 is clogged with 18 guys. He is not going to be able to bust his way out and mark the footy.”

    Regardless, the Bulldogs made Ugle-Hagan work for a senior debut last year. They had the luxury of doing so, because they had forward targets in Aaron Naughton and, until his knee injury in round 21, Josh Bruce. However, as one rival club list expert noted, other clubs may have handed him an early debut, particularly after his five goals in the VFL in round two.

    Ugle-Hagan had expected to play senior football immediately but admitted this week it had taken a while to realise he had not joined a struggling team but rather one that was in the premiership race.

    The Dogs’ coaching staff wanted Ugle-Hagan to compete for four quarters, do the “one percenters”.

    “In the moment, when you are hearing the coaches tell you [that] you are not doing the right thing, you are doing this, you need to do that, you don’t believe them at some point, but they do know what’s best for you. They really want you to become the best player you can,” Ugle-Hagan said.

    “That was just starting with little things like competing. I don’t have to mark the ball all the time.”

    There were flashes of his obvious brilliance. His athleticism and smoothness, which had made him such an exciting prospect, were clear. But more second and third efforts on-field were needed. He was, as Johnson noted, a “bit fumbly” at times.

    The Dogs say he had been close to a debut in May last year but was concussed and missed time. Then came another Melbourne lockdown, with VFL football impacted.

    Ugle-Hagan admitted this week last year had not provided the fun he had expected, in part because of the onerous expectations he had foisted on himself. However, he remained resolute, and senior elevation finally came against Sydney in round 17. He managed five games (seven goals) and was dropped. He did not return for the finals, the Dogs still concerned about how his 90-kilogram frame would handle physically mature defenders.

    Bontempelli worked closely with him over summer, both at training and on his professional standards. Ugle-Hagan has enjoyed the nightlife, and found himself on the social pages when dating Mia Fevola, the daughter of former Carlton and Brisbane Lions forward, Brendan. The pair separated last year.

    He isn’t quite in the league of teammate Bailey Smith in terms of Instagram followers, but he does have a healthy following (58,700), with fishing one of his loves.

    “He loves his mates, he loves a good time but, by hell, has he done some work [at training],” Atchison said.

    More questions came when Ugle-Hagan was overlooked for the Dogs’ community series match against the Brisbane Lions, having struggled in a practice match against Essendon, but he was in the team come round one for the grand-final rematch.

    It hasn’t been all smooth since, for he was dropped after round six and returned only in round 14. During that period, he again asked questions of his coaches about how he could be better.

    The past fortnight has yielded eight goals. Teammates had increasing confidence in him last weekend, and a piercing focus to succeed was there.

    “He does float - he has been like that ever since I met him as a 15-year-old,” Stokes said. “But sometimes that personality where you don’t think they don’t care, they are not that hyped up, they are not a crazy-eye like a [Brayden] Maynard-type player, they are made for these moments because they are never over-awed.”

    Atchison said Ugle-Hagan’s efforts against the Demons, earning him a Rising Star nomination and eight AFL Coaches Association votes, were a “little showing of what he might do in the future”.

    “Fingers crossed. You watch and hope he can come out and do it again next week, but there are no guarantees of that. As long as he keeps working hard,” Atchison said.
    Last edited by bornadog; 30-07-2022 at 02:01 PM.
    FFC: Established 1877

    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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  3. #2
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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs have set Ugle-Hagan up for success

    The media love to drive the "why not" agenda and then cross the floor and spruik the wisdom of it.

    People love eating it both ways.
    Retired from match day thread - Sep 2021 (Sometimes)

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  5. #3
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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs have set Ugle-Hagan up for success

    Quote Originally Posted by Grantysghost View Post
    The media love to drive the "why not" agenda and then cross the floor and spruik the wisdom of it.

    People love eating it both ways.
    Scum industry, only politics is of an even lower standard than the media
    We are the goon squad and we're coming to town. Beep Beep.

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  7. #4
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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs have set Ugle-Hagan up for success

    Quote Originally Posted by Sedat View Post
    Scum industry, only politics is of an even lower standard than the media
    I still have to believe (have to otherwise...) some go into politics for the right reasons.
    Maybe they all get corrupted I don't know but there must be those who want to help their community.

    Maybe there's a naive idealist still hidden under all the cynicism, or there needs to be!
    Retired from match day thread - Sep 2021 (Sometimes)

  8. #5
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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs have set Ugle-Hagan up for success

    Quote Originally Posted by Grantysghost View Post
    I still have to believe (have to otherwise...) some go into politics for the right reasons.
    Maybe they all get corrupted I don't know but there must be those who want to help their community.

    Maybe there's a naive idealist still hidden under all the cynicism, or there needs to be!
    I think by the time they reach any sort of ministry or position of power outside of being a back bencher they're probably compromised. Even backbenchers in safe seats have to do a lot to get nominated.

    Aaaaanyway, thre frenzy around Marra in his first year was deplorable. We all want Bevo to be more of a happy clapper in the media at times, but really, with the shit they push on players someone needs to stand up call out their crap.
    Borderline irrational.

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  10. #6
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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs have set Ugle-Hagan up for success

    Quote Originally Posted by jeemak View Post
    I think by the time they reach any sort of ministry or position of power outside of being a back bencher they're probably compromised. Even backbenchers in safe seats have to do a lot to get nominated.

    Aaaaanyway, thre frenzy around Marra in his first year was deplorable. We all want Bevo to be more of a happy clapper in the media at times, but really, with the shit they push on players someone needs to stand up call out their crap.
    Yes and they barely mentioned the Covid related developmental delays he faced.
    Not only that he was drafted into a good side, not the bottom side.
    Many reasons he was held back.
    Retired from match day thread - Sep 2021 (Sometimes)

  11. #7
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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs have set Ugle-Hagan up for success

    Quote Originally Posted by Sedat View Post
    Scum industry, only politics is of an even lower standard than the media
    What about the editing?

    I’m still figuring out how this is relevant to the article?

    ‘If she’d chucked it in, where would we be?’ How far footy has come for women broadcasters”
    #BeMoreBulldog

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  13. #8
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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs have set Ugle-Hagan up for success

    Quote Originally Posted by azabob View Post
    What about the editing?

    I’m still figuring out how this is relevant to the article?

    ‘If she’d chucked it in, where would we be?’ How far footy has come for women broadcasters”
    That was my fault in the cut and paste.
    FFC: Established 1877

    Premierships: AFL 1954, 2016 VFA - 1898,99,1900, 1908, 1913, 1919-20, 1923-24, VFL: 2014, 2016 . Champions of Victoria 1924. AFLW - 2018.

  14. #9
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    Re: How the Western Bulldogs have set Ugle-Hagan up for success

    Quote Originally Posted by bornadog View Post
    That was my fault in the cut and paste.
    Never admit fault!

    Blame, blame, blame!
    #BeMoreBulldog

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