Bulldogs reveal their 2021 weapon
Western Bulldogs recruit Stefan Martin fully expects his new team to roll with a two ruckman strategy every game this season which could give them a whole new advantage up forward too.
Martin, 34, crossed from the Brisbane Lions to address an issue Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has conceded was "disconcerting" as emerging big man Tim English was consistently having to play one-out in 2020.
The pair could now form a significant one-two punch in the ruck and Martin declared English could also prove to be an all-new weapon for their team in the forward line, as he displayed booting two goals against Hawthorn in a practice match last Wednesday.
"Gee he's an impressive forward, and an impressive footballer. You' love two of him, " Martin said of English, who kicked eight goals last season.
"I reckon you could put him anywhere you wanted, he's just a great footballer. He uses the ball really well, so you don't have to put him out of the goal square, he can come up and hit up the ball too.
"I'm sure Bevo would be really confident him playing forward."
Martin missed a chunk of 2020 as he battled a stress fracture in his back, and when he finally returned his place in the Lions team had been taken by Brisbane's new first-choice ruckman Oscar McInerney.
That didn't force Martin's hand when it came to making a career move, but he conceded it was the best one, now lining up with a midfield he said was the "deepest" in the AFL, and the most competitive.
"Their attack on the ball just amazes me at times. Witnessing it from a few metres away, seeing some of the stuff the boys do, it's impressive," he said.
"Everything I believed to be true about the midfield unit is true, in so far as the pressure they apply and the fight to the death is really noticeable when I am out there with them."
Earlier this week Beveridge said the ruck issue was one of the most necessary for him to address going in to 2021.
New opportunities, midfield mix, Jamarra and everything in-between... @BobMurphy02 sat down with Bevo to get the senior coach's thoughts on the season to come.— Western Bulldogs (@westernbulldogs) March 1, 2021
"I won't beat around the bush with the ruck situation, it has been disconcerting from a coaching point of view," he told former captain Bob Murphy in an interview on the club's website.
"Our strategy has really revolved around the fact that we are going to get beaten in hit-outs and at the source and we have managed to stem the tide and get some momentum with numbers and different personnel.
"Now Stef hopefully gives us peace of mind in there. He's not the tallest of ruckmen, but he's tall and competitive."
Martin said his competitive juices had been "reinvigorated" by the move and he was excited at the prospect of forming a powerful duo with English from Round 1.
"Bevo hasn't explicitly said that but if I am reading the tea leaves it loos that way as long as I hold up my end of the bargain and contribute," he said.
"It's given me a bit more energy and trying to prove myself to a whole new club and supporters and players."
Originally published as Bulldogs new 2021 weapon