Bulldogs cautious with AFL recruits - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bulldogs cautious with AFL recruits

By Adam Cooper 30/11/2009 07:12:24 PM Comments (0)

Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade expects only one of his club's draftees to play in the AFL next season and it is unlikely to be their surprise first pick, Christian Howard.

Eade said it was putting a lot of expectation on teenagers to play senior football the year after they were drafted, which could mean Howard and fellow 18-year-old Jason Tutt will spend plenty of time in the VFL.

"Our side has been reasonably settled for a couple of years now and it will be tough to break in for every player," Eade said on Monday, sitting alongside his recruits.

"But you pick them on form and we've shown inclinations through the last couple of years to play young players.

"Last (season, Liam) Picken and (Callan) Ward jumped up and Sam Reid, so they can certainly get an opportunity.

"But we're very mindful of our training loads for them, especially early."

The Bulldogs made one of the more surprising calls in last week's national draft when they selected Howard with a first-round pick despite his absence from the South Australia team at national under-18 championship and missing an invitation to draft camp, where clubs assess prospective recruits.

But Eade said the Bulldogs rated the midfielder with a booming left foot highly and were delighted to secure him with pick No.15.

"He fit the profile of what we wanted, a guy who can run and assist and set the play up, and we did a lot of homework on his background and his character," he said.

"He ticked a lot of boxes so we're very pleased."

That said, the pup most likely to earn senior selection in 2010 is Lukas Markovic, a 192cm defender who, at 22, has some experience in the AFL, albeit as a Hawthorn rookie in 2006 when he was delisted at the end of the season.

Markovic, who earned a second chance through his good form and leadership with VFL side Box Hill, was confident of securing a spot in the Dogs' defence.

"Yeah, absolutely. I certainly think I can take it to the next level and hopefully make a spot for me in the back six," he said.

"I'm looking forward to a big pre-season and putting on another couple of kilos hopefully and trying to get a spot there.

"It's not going to be easy but I'm looking forward to it ... I'm absolutely rapt to get another shot."

The Bulldogs also drafted Shane Thorne, a skilful midfielder from the Northern Territory who almost quit football to spend more time with his young daughter, but, at 23, is delighted to have stuck with the sport.

Meanwhile, Eade said the Bulldogs were hopeful ex-Swan star Barry Hall could resume running next week, but were happy with his recovery after recent ankle surgery.

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