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Boyd like a 'blue-chip stock': Beveridge

Nat Edwards  February 12, 2015 10:14 AM

Beveridge's preseason progress report The new Bulldogs coach opens up about his first pre-season at the club and the progress of his prized recruit
We know that he's going to be a very, very good player for the football club.

If Western Bulldogs fans think prized recruit Tom Boyd is going to be transformed into a star forward overnight, they better think again.

There has been plenty of hype surrounding the 19-year-old since he arrived at Whitten Oval in October last year on a long-term multi-million dollar deal, after managing just nine games in his debut AFL season at Greater Western Sydney.

The Bulldogs have been crying out for a key forward since the departure of Barry Hall at the end of 2011, and despite not playing a game yet for the club, Boyd is fast being considered as one of the Dogs' most important players.

Charged with mentoring Boyd and helping to mould him into a modern AFL player, is new coach Luke Beveridge, who was appointed in November after the blockbuster Boyd-Griffen trade was manufactured by the club.

In an exclusive interview with AFL.com.au, Beveridge acknowledged the young spearhead had the talent to become one of the best forwards in the competition, but he said it was unrealistic to expect that to happen quickly.    

"He's not going to come out this year and blow people's minds I can absolutely guarantee that," Beveridge said on Wednesday. 

"But we're going to help him do the best that he can and support him along the way. He's been really impressive over the pre-season, he's worked hard. 

"The expectations on Tom, there is no doubt they're more external than internal. We know that he's going to be a very, very good player for the football club. He's probably like a blue-chip stock really, he'll pay dividends along the way but it's probably going to take a bit of time as he's only 19."

The Bulldogs are mindful that key position players take longer to develop.

When asked just how good Boyd could be, Beveridge drew comparisons to the development of Geelong spearhead Tom Hawkins.

"It's hard to forecast exactly how good he can become," he said.

"But if you think of some of the young key forwards, like a young Tom Hawkins and his growth, it probably took Tom a little while to get to where he wanted to go. But he's become one of the premier key forwards in the competition and is quite an outstanding and imposing figure.

"The similarity is Boydy is a big man. He's going to be a handful and what he will do is create opportunities for his teammates because he'll draw a crowd. He's a very good contested mark and so he could potentially be one of the game's premier forwards but it's no going to be this year.

"It's going to take some time but that's not to say we're going to go easy on him because we want him to be the best player he can be, as quickly as possible."

Like all coaches, Beveridge just wants his young players to show continual improvement and development.

While Boyd will play predominantly in attack, the coach also flagged the former Giant will spend time in the ruck to develop his versatility. 

By his own admission last year, Boyd bulked up too much in his first pre-season, and ultimately struggled to run out four full quarters, so working on his fitness base has been key heading into season 2015.

"Key forwards, big guys, in the early part of their journey, need to learn to cover ground and it takes a while to build your tank," Beveridge said.

"Boydy is building his tank so he can't get too big because he does need to run. We need him to be good at the other phases, not when we're just in attacking mode."