The Western Bulldogs were agonisingly close to winning the flag in 2021, before a second-half Melbourne onslaught took it away from them.
However, Brownlow Medallist Gerard Healy is confident the Bulldogs have the pieces to challenge again, particularly given the young talent coming through on their list.
After picking up Academy player Jamarra Ugle-Hagan with the first pick in the 2020 National Draft, the Bulldogs will once again be granted one of the best young talents in the draft with father-son prospect Sam Darcy. The ruck-forward is projected to go in the top three.
Couple this with talented players under 25 like Bailey Smith, Cody Weightman, Aaron Naughton, Josh Dunkley, Tim English and Bailey Williams.
“They’ve got a good young squad and it’s going to be added to by some really top-end young talent,” Healy told Sportsday.
“They’ve got some really good top-end young talent coming through. They’ve got one unbelievably good young midfielder in Bailey Smith, they’ve got Bailey Dale across the half-back line, they’ve got a couple of All-Australians who were nominated again this year.
“I like where they are positioned.”
Healy adds that he doesn’t feel like the Bulldogs necessarily blew a premiership opportunity, given Melbourne was the best team in 2021.
“It’s a bit retrospective, but you only get so many chances to win a flag,” Healy said.
“I don’t think they let it slip because Melbourne I think are the best side in it.
“Melbourne did what they did to a number of sides this year which is when they’ve unleashed, they have blown teams out of the ground through the middle.
“This was so close. Just a couple of things, even if the footy gods had have smiled on them for five more minutes it could have been a premiership.”
The Western Bulldogs had a quiet trade period, losing Pat Lipinski and Lewis Young while gaining Tim O’Brien.