Dogs to unveil ‘formidable’ forward line
THE Western Bulldogs believe they can create a "formidable" forward line this season and say there is a "steely resolve" among the playing group entering their first pre-season match on Saturday.
Determined to bounce back after finishing 10th last year, the Bulldogs are confident a young list and some key off-season inclusions will see them climb back up the ladder.
The club will name its squad this afternoon for Saturday's JLT Community Series clash with Hawthorn in Ballarat but is expected to roll out former Brisbane forward Josh Schache and the No.9 pick from last year's draft, key defender Aaron Naughton.
Schache looks set to join 2016 Grand Final hero Tom Boyd in a new-look forward line this year, the attacking end an area of focus for the Bulldogs, who averaged five more inside-50s than their opponent last season but ranked 10th for scoring from them at just 46.3 per cent.
"There's a bit of unknown with how we set up, not only us but everyone in the competition, what's best fit," Western Bulldogs assistant coach Daniel Giansiracusa said.
"We'll pick our side on form and if they (Boyd and Schache) are getting a kick and playing well within the team structures then I think we can be quite formidable in that area.
"We got a lot of entries last year but weren't able to capitalise and that's been a bit of a focus for the pre-season so hopefully we can show that against the Hawks on Saturday."
Defender Dale Morris is the sole player on the club's injury list after suffering a small tear of his ACL last week, Giansiracusa saying a healthy young squad - which is the fourth-least experienced in the AFL - indicated significant improvement on last season lay ahead.
"I think they've come back with a steely resolve to get better," he said.
"Last year there were players that probably weren't at the level they wanted to be and we'll definitely get that through those guys. They've shown since Day 1 of preseason that they want to come and get back to the levels they got to previously. They're 12 months older. I think we're the fourth or fifth youngest list in the comp so there's going to be guys stepping up."