Justin Leppitsch and Daisy Pearce have gone in to bat for Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge, who has so far resisted temptation to play number one draft pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan.
Carrying the tag of the number one draft pick is difficult for any 18 year old, especially one who’s not playing, with the Bulldogs so far resisting the temptation to play the prodigious talent.
The 195cm key forward has proved his worth at VFL level this season, kicking multiple bags of goals.
But Pearce told SEN's Crunch Time that Ugle-Hagan is developing as he would be expected to, without the number one draft pick label hanging over his head.
“Is there any shame in the fact that he’s not ready? Probably not. He’s part of the majority, the most recent (number one draft picks) are probably outliers,” Pearce said.
“The luxury (Luke) Beveridge has is that they’re 6-1 with a pretty well functioning forward line, they don’t have to rush him.”
There have been instances in the past where number one picks were rushed too early into the side, which, for some, may have hampered careers.
2008 pick one Jack Watts is one such example of this occurring, and Pearce is keen to not see history repeat itself.
“We’ve seen rushing of number one draft picks because circumstances at the club fail, and it’s taken years or an entire career to make it back up," she said.
“The perception that he’s been hard done by is just wrong. This is a club setting him up to thrive.”
Leppitsch also supports Beveridge’s strong position on his prized draft pick, and says honesty is going to be the key while Ugle-Hagan awaits his debut.
“I hope that (the people around him) are being level with him and honest with him… I hope they’re telling him ‘footy’s hard'. Don’t end up like Jack Watts,” Leppitsch said.
He also drew the comparison to 2018 number one draft pick Sam Walsh, who already has a reputation in the AFL as one of the hardest-working players in the competiton.
“Sam Walsh is a great example of how pick one’s should act. He’s the hardest working player at Carlton, and that’s what Jamarra’s perception should be,” he said.
The Dogs play Carlton on Sunday in round eight, with Ugle-Hagan once again not named.