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The “real hole” the Bulldogs must fill to contend this season


David King has outlined the one missing piece that the Bulldogs need to find for the club to be a premiership contender this season.

The Bulldogs are coming into 2023 with high expectations, looking to make their third Grand Final appearance under Luke Beveridge.

However, King has pointed out that the lack of a dominant intercept defender is a gaping hole in this current Bulldogs squad.

“They’ve got to find a way to disrupt the opposition moving the ball, they didn’t have a player inside the AFL top 40 for intercepting last year, not one,” King said on SEN Breakfast.

“Sam Taylor was number one, James Sicily number two, Darcy Moore number three, Tom Stewart number four, Patty McCartin at Sydney, Jeremy Howe.

“That’s what we’re talking, that level of player, that level of influence.”

With the Bulldogs making the move to acquire veteran defender Liam Jones in the off-season to help fill this role, King believes the Bulldogs are capable of remedying this issue.

“I just wonder if there’s some structural work needs to be done, clearly that intercepting player needs to be found and realised by the Dogs pretty quick, just can’t be Ed Richards or bust,” he said.

“That’s a real hole, that’s a real flaw, everyone just says Liam Jones will come in and that’s what he’ll do.

“This is the first time that Luke Beveridge has had tall options to play with, so that’s exciting if you’re a Dogs fan.”

Kane Cornes also sees Jones as the short-term solution for the Bulldogs, however is looking more to the future with Sam Darcy running things down back.

“I wonder if Liam Jones can be that player, and Darcy is probably not ready to be that yet but there wouldn’t be a player in the league that you could be more excited about than Sam Darcy with his capabilities,” he said.

“That’s a big stat, if you play finals and you don’t have one player in the top 40 as an interceptor, that’s a big stat.”

Despite acknowledging this flaw, Cornes can’t help but be enamoured with the overall strength of the Bulldogs.

“They’ve just got talent everywhere though, I keep coming back to (the belief that) talent will win you games of footy,” he said.

“(Aaron) Naughton could explode this year, if (Jamarra) Ugle-Hagan can stand up, and if (Rory) Lobb can stand up to an extent, Aaron Naughton could be the big beneficiary of that. I really enjoy the way he plays his football, he kicked 51 goals last year, that could go to 70 this year.

“They’ve got everything the Western Bulldogs for me, finish top four in the home and away season and make a prelim final is a pass mark.”

The Bulldogs will have a tough task on their hands in their opening round fixture, taking on Melbourne in a replay of the 2021 Grand Final.

Western Bulldogs

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