Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has revealed a season-ending knee injury to Josh Bruce has also impacted Jamarra Ugle-Hagan’s bid to play finals in his rookie year.
Last year’s No.1 draft pick played five straight matches, booting seven goals, before he was dropped after the round 21 clash against Essendon, the same day Bruce hurt his knee in the dying minutes of a 13-point loss at Marvel Stadium.
Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is unlikely to be picked for the Bulldogs this finals series.Credit:Getty Images
The absence of the big-bodied Bruce could have prompted the Bulldogs to give the athletic Ugle-Hagan an extended run alongside star forward Aaron Naughton, but it was felt his slender frame was a concern when it came to matching up on key defenders.
The Dogs have since turned to Tim English to be the second marking tall, predominantly playing inside attacking 50, despite English being their frontline ruckman. Josh Schache was another option used ahead of Ugle-Hagan in last Sunday’s elimination final against Essendon.
As the Bulldogs prepare for Saturday night’s knockout final against the Brisbane Lions, Beveridge opened up on why Ugle-Hagan had again been overlooked at selection.
“Last week I talked about Jamarra with the scope to be able to play 100 minutes of a big final and it’s imperative anyone that is picked can do that,” Beveridge said on Thursday.
“Jamarra showed some really promising form and we loved what he did when he came into the team. What he was fortunate to have in that time was a big guy named Josh Bruce next to him who could buffer the load, take the first and second defender with ‘Naughts’. It’s probably no coincidence that when ‘Brucey’ went out of the side, unfortunately, Jamarra came out as well. We needed to make sure we could get to the line with the 22 or 23.
“Jamarra is there, absolutely, we can use him if we need him but as I mentioned earlier, our forward line functioned pretty well and Schache did a tremendous job coming in and playing that role after a long time. It’s unlikely that Jamarra will come in this week.”
Ruckman Stefan Martin (groin soreness) has been ruled out of the Lions’ clash and appears a long shot to add to his seven matches this season should the Bulldogs progress. Lewis Young has held the No.1 ruck for three weeks but has been beaten heavily in the hitouts. Zaine Cordy (illness) was a late withdrawal last weekend but is back in the selection frame,
The Bulldogs will leave their Tasmanian base on Friday, where they have been based since last Sunday, and will have a light run at the Gabba before being confined to their hotel for 24 hours ahead of the nighttime clash.
That they have an excellent record on the road this year, having won in six states or territories, has given Beveridge faith his team has another card to play.
“I think our players have been extremely resilient,” he said.
“This year we know that, especially when [we] went to Perth those two times, you are compromised as far as your accommodation and freedoms, and so you can turn that into a real positive.
“You can play the victim card or you can play the victor card. I think we have been able to stay positive and probably galvanise a little bit on the road as well.
“This is an opportunity, that resilience I speak about, when I put that card back in the pack, it has been a strong part of our suit.”
As part of Queensland’s health restrictions, players will be confined to two floors of their hotel, but can gather as a group for lunch on Saturday.
They at least head north re-energised following their stirring second half in Launceston, and now face a side they defeated by 19 points in round four at a windswept Ballarat.
Much has changed since then, with both sides dealing with season-ending injuries to key forwards, while the Lions, having been beaten by Melbourne, have several areas to tighten. Since round 17 they are ranked 14th for points against from turnovers and 11th for points against from clearances. They have also been 12th for points against.
The Dogs were back to their best in the contest after half-time in Launceston, and their midfield fleet of Marcus Bontempelli, Adam Treloar, Tom Liberatore, Jack Macrae and Josh Dunkley will fancy their chances although the latter may tag Lions’ star Lachie Neale.
Keep up to date with the best AFL coverage in the country. Sign up for the Real Footy newsletter.
Most Viewed in Sport
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article