Following the trade deadline, one team has widely been coined as the clear winner of the trade period.
The Western Bulldogs managed to complete fantastic business across the window by bringing back a former Footscray VFL player, Mitch Hannan, who has since gone on to play 50 AFL games for the Demons.
The club also added a big-bodied and experienced veteran ruckman in Stefan Martin from the Brisbane to assist with Tim English’s development, provide competition and add size in the ruck that the dogs have been longing for.
But best of all, bringing in the elite midfield presence of Collingwood’s Adam Treloar and holding on to one of the Dog’s finest in Josh Dunkley.
But how do they all fit into the midfield?
Stefan Martin, Tim English, Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae, Adam Treloar, Josh Dunkley, Bailey Smith, Lachie Hunter and Tom Liberatore…
Luke Beveridge will be tasked with the challenge to fit them all into a midfield and whilst some selections may be easy, some may prove to be difficult.
An easy selection in my mind is to slot Lachie Hunter on the wing where he does his best work bombing up and down the flanks providing opportunities for his forwards.
As well as this, Liberatore will play as one of the followers roving around the contest as he so often does with his hard-nosed play style and workhorse mentality providing the Doggies with so much energy.
Stefan Martin and Tim English will most likely rotate through the ruck whilst one rests up forward as Martin has proved how good a mark he can be in the air and English continues to show his exceptional ball skills and finesse for a big man.
Now here come the tougher decisions…
Marquee player and club captain, Bontempelli will feature heavily around the contest, however, I predict he will find himself resting at centre half-forward as a bigger body taking lead up marks. Expect Bontempelli to kick far more goals than previous years.
Similarly, young gun Bailey Smith will spend more time on the wing and on the half-forward line whilst rotating through the primary midfield group as his intensity and tough play offers something different to the midfield that other players don’t offer.
The ball magnet Macrae will be integral to the Bulldogs midfield once again. An underrated player, Luke Beveridge will look to use him in the middle of the park primarily as his distribution is elite. However, he will still feature in the Dog’s forward line which has struggled to convert inside 50’s in recent years.
The man who stayed. The arrival of Stefan Martin will keep Josh Dunkley in the middle of the park with his hard tackling and strong running. Dunkley will also rotate through that half-forward line similar to how he operated earlier in his career for the Dogs.
The main who arrived. Adam Treloar will slot in well to the Bulldogs midfield but will have something to prove to his new coach and teammates, Treloar provides great flair and creativity going forward. I suspect Treloar will feature heavily in the contest but stream forward and make a real impact for the dogs in front of goal.
The acquisition of Treloar was smart business by the Bulldogs as they only had to give up this year’s first round pick 14 and a future second rounder whilst receiving Picks 26, 33 and 42 in addition to Treloar.
The Sons of the west are also primed to be selecting the widely touted number one draft prospect in Jamarrah Ugle-Hagan through their Next Gen Academy, which is no doubt where their collection of picks gathered through various trades will be spent to match opposing bids for the promising young tall forward.
Other strong midfield options that the Dogs already possess will make up the remaining midfield positions such as surprise package, Rhylee West, Laitham Vandermeer and Pat Lipinski.
I suspect both all three will find themselves rotating through the forward line and on the wing to maintain fresh legs and provide opportunity for both players to succeed.
Vandermeer had a surprisingly strong year before being injured and will look to have a bigger impact in season 2021, keep your eye out for number 23, he’s a hard and fast runner and could potentially feature anywhere from streaming off half-back, down the wing or on the forward flank.
The Bulldog’s midfield is absolutely dangerous and Luke Beveridge will have a tough time deciding how to utilise all of the talent at his disposal whilst opposition teams will have a tough time dealing with what’s to come.