Season 2011 was a let-down for the Bulldogs after repeated near misses over the previous few seasons. After so many close preliminary final losses, something had to give. Injuries to key players such as Adam Cooney and Brian Lake were just the start of their problems as they missed out on the finals and subsequently lost their coach in the process. With Brendan McCartney in charge, they are hoping to bounce back to the finals, while blooding their many talented youngsters.
In 2012 the Dogs have plenty of untried players who have shown a lot in the reserves, while others such as Ayce Cordy, Liam Jones and Jordan Roughead are expected to kick on and show promise for the future. Ben Hudson got cooed into heading to the Lions, Barry Hall retired and a new look coaching panel took place. Overall, while their older brigade is starting to show signs of wear and tear, their younger stars are ready to take centre stage.
Question marks still surround players such as Lindsay Gilbee and Brian Lake, but if they can recapture their 2010 form, then the Doggies will be in good stead and aiming for finals in 2012. They are a good side who had a form lapse last season, and it will depend how McCartney sets up his team.
Matthew Boyd – The captain of the Dogs is an ever-consistent leader who is the club’s barometer. He really stepped in up in 2011 with the extra responsibility, and while so many of his teammates weren’t performing, he stood up admiral ably week in, week out.
Daniel Cross – Cross is a tackling machine who loves the rough stuff. Not afraid to get his hands dirty, he will always be in there getting the hard ball. Unfortunately for Cross, 2011 wasn’t his best season, and he will be hoping he can get back to his previous seasons’ heights so the Dogs can enjoy the next few years with such a hard nut in the middle.
Brian Lake – Lake had a horror year after two operations and rumours about his commitment. Whatever it was, Brian will be hoping to repay the team after many saw him on the chopping block at the end of last season. If he can get back to his All-Australian best, the Dogs supporters should expect finals.
Tom Liberatore – Burst onto the scene early last season with his ferocious speed and tackling capacity. Plays like his Brownlow Medallist father, and is no doubt a hot prospect for the future. Was taken much earlier than anticipated in the draft and will be a bargain down the track.
Mitch Wallis – Ball magnet who dominated the Under 18’s. While he didn’t play the full season many people were expecting, he showed glimpses and is expected to kick on this season. He will no doubt in time become a key member of the Dogs’ midfield brigade.
Ayce Cordy – Another father/son pick who has much hype about him. Good overhead, can play up forward or in the ruck. Many rumours are appearing that he’ll get a real shot this season as a key up forward now Hall has departed. Definitely one to watch for the future.
The Dogs are a tough one to pick. Will they try and go straight for the top, or will they blood youngsters? Depending on what they choose, they will have a different outcome. Anywhere from top four to just missing the finals could be the destination for the Dogs.