2021 Team Preview – Western Bulldogs

Written by Gunboat Diplomacy on February 18 2021

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With one of the best midfield engine rooms and most versatile defensive spreads in the competition, the one chink in the Dogs armour over the last couple years has been their strikingly undersized forward line’s inability to consistently hit the score board – consider that in 2020 the Dogs top goal kicker was 185cm Mitch Wallis. However, a strong pre-season for Naughton, the potential for Bruce to hit his stride in his second year alongside Hannan, Martin and English’s synergy and (as if that wasn’t enough) the addition of Adam Treloar have the Dogs primed for an impressive 2021 campaign.


Lock and Load: Caleb Daniel ($545 500) continued his SC ascendance in 2020, averaging over 100 (101.5) for the first time in his career and capping off with a 154. Daniel’s work rate and ability from the ball insulates from the role change whims of Beveridge, just needs 20 disposals to ton and you’re cooking with gas.


Lock and Load: Despite being confined the wing or copping reduced CBAs for the first 5 rounds (posting 3 sub-tons) last year, Jack Macrae ($650 100) swiftly reminded us why was SC royalty thereafter: putting in a Top 8 MID season at a 121 average with monster scores of 169, 162 and 189. Even with all the cooks in the kitchen that is the Dogs midfield, Macrae should re-affirm himself as one of the competition’s preeminent accumulators and SC players with a return to 20 minute quarters and home games.

Marcus Bontempelli ($623 900) had a career year in 2020 on account of his team high CBAs, elite contested possession work and role as the one constant of the Dogs engine room – remember that 199? While reports have him slated to split time FWD in 2021, a maturing Dogs forward line might absolve Bont of FWD duties and allow him to remain on ball – even so, a stint FWD each quarter remains a viable scoring stream for the Dogs #2 goal kicker in 2020.

Feeling Lucky: Seen a few people mention Lachie Hunter ($618 500) as a POD this season, noting his high ceiling and largely unassuming Top 8 finish last year. Given the inflation of winger scores in a condensed 2020 season and Macrae, Dunkley, Bont and now Treloar being higher up in the time on ball pecking order, I’d pass – although 1% ownership would make him a deadly POD if he proves me wrong.

Adam Treloar ($587 600) copped a soft tissue set back yesterday and remains in doubt for Round 1. So while you can’t start him, he could make for a consistent post-bye POD. Treloar’s impact on the Dogs CBA’s and time on ball will be interesting, either they all take a haircut and share it around; my guess, and SC hope, at this stage is that Smith Libba make way for Treloar to join Dunkley, Bont, Macrae and later Treloar.


Feeling Lucky: Tim English ($551 200) used to be a meme of a ruckman, pretty much guaranteeing opposition rucks 40 HOs a game, but 2020 saw English take major strides: adding +20 to his 2019 average to close out on 102.6, posting the highest SC score of 2020 (204) and improving his tap work. The arrival of Martin will see the Dogs try to replicate the incredibly effective and SC conducive dynamic Marshall and Ryder have; expect English to take 40%~ of the HOs, rove around, make himself a target and try to hit the scoreboard. I’ve got G&G locked, but if I had to depart from that I’d be giving English a serious look – word is he’s put on some serious muscle in the off season!


Lock and Load: DPP FWD status pretty makes Josh Dunkley ($560 200) a lock in 2021 in that, even if he doesn’t get the CBA load and according SC points we’d want from him as a MID, he’ll still comfortably finish as a Top 6 FWD. While injury and role frustrated Dunkley’s 2020, he was still able to ton from less than 20 disposals and even hit 151 from 22. A tackling machine and contested beast, the right form and role could see Dunkley have a career season.

Money Maker: 195cm, 90 kg and said to be Lance Franklin-esque, the Dogs matched the Crows bid on#1 draft pick Jamara Ugle-Hagan ($207 300) to secure him as a long term solution to their aforementioned FWD deficiencies. He probably won’t score too well but, crucially, in a season where teamsheets remain in limbo and the previous year’s draft crop are underdeveloped, Hagan’s JS makes him a very appealing rookie.


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6 thoughts on “2021 Team Preview – Western Bulldogs”

  1. Nice write up GD.
    I nearly always start with MacRae but this year I’ll probably start with no premium dogs. Dunkley is a maybe because, let’s face it, they can’t F up his role any more than they did last season!


  2. Nice work GD. There’s doubts about all of the premium Dogs (except Daniel), unfortunately I can see at least one of them requesting a trade at year’s end for more opportunity elsewhere.

    Not sure just how good JUH is yet, but if they’re relying on a rookie to do the heavy lifting then it’s safe to say they still don’t have any forwards!


    1. Agreed Chillo !
      Likely to be Dunkley pushing his case early again for the Dons, make his move a nice little family affair at The Hanger



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