Squad Breakdown: Western Bulldogs 2023 SC analysis

2021 runner-up Stevie Niko takes an in-depth look at the Bulldogs' SuperCoach credentials heading into the 2023 AFL season.

AFL Pre Season

The Dogs snuck into the finals last season thanks to Carlton botching a 25-point ¾ time lead but bowed out to the Dockers in the first week of finals.  I’m not confident they’ll have the same luck this time around.  Some absolute quality has left the kennel in Josh Dunkley and I’m not sure Rory Lobb and Liam Jones fill that void, however they have definitely improved the spine of the team.   It may be another season of being around the finals mark or even sliding out of contention.

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FB: Ryan Gardner, Alex Keath, Bailey Williams
HB: Ed Richards, Liam Jones, Bailey Dale
C: Bailey Smith, Tom Liberatore, Adam Treloar
HF: Cody Weightman, Rory Lobb, Toby McLean
FF: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, Aaron Naughton, Laitham Vandameer
FOL: Tim English, Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae
I/C: Sam Darcy, Caleb Daniel, Hayden Crozier, Oskar Baker
EMG: Riley Garcia, Josh Bruce, Mitch Hannan, Anthony Scott, Taylor Duryea, Rhylee West

INJ: Arthur Jones (adducter), Jason Johannisen (calf), Roarke Smith (planter fascia)

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List Changes


Oskar Baker (pre-season supplemental selection period), Jedd Busslinger (No.13 draft pick), Charlie Clarke (No.24 draft pick), Harvey Gallagher (No.39 draft pick), Liam Jones (free agent), Rory Lobb (trade, Fremantle).


Louis Butler (delisted), Zaine Cordy (free agent, St Kilda), Josh Dunkley (Brisbane), Lachie Hunter (trade, Melbourne), Stefan Martin (retired), Charlie Parker (delisted), Josh Schache (trade, Melbourne), Mitch Wallis (delisted)

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Lock & Load

Marcus Bontempelli – MID – $639,500

The Skipper and number one man at the kennel.  Should take his game to another level with added midfield time thanks to Dunkley’s absence.  Will still rest forward but we know he’s a good mark on the lead and even in a contested situation and will kick goals.  A no brainer starting pick in my opinion and a great VC shout most weeks.  My tip for the Brownlow medal.

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Ed Richards – DEF – $460,400

Finished the season with an average of 83.6 and priced accordingly, however went at 111.3 in the last 6 matches of the home and away season.  That’s the kind of thing that screams break out next year so the time could be now.  Seems to have the right role with Caleb Daniel moving up the ground.  A 45-point game in the elimination final is cause for concern and highlights his floor.

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Toby McLean – MID/FWD – $178,900

Coming off a long-term knee injury and limited game time over 2 years means you can get a once proven good scorer for a little above a basic rookie price.  Averaged 94.7 in 2018 but I highly doubt he can get near that with a half forward/wing role that he currently occupies.  However, 65+ is not out of question and could fill a F6 spot or be F7/M9 cover.  Scored 100 in the elimination final last season but has had two poor outings so far this pre-season and many have jumped off.  On the fence with this one, could go either way, but I’m leaning toward him having a decent season as he comes out of contract.

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Caleb Daniel – DEF – $495,200

As mentioned prior, will be playing up the ground and potentially in CBA’s and on the wing this season.  This means no cheap ball out of defence or free points from kick outs.  I’d be shocked if he outplayed his price so a hard pass for me.

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