When Matt Suckling woke up on the morning of October 12, 2015, there was a text message waiting for him from Bulldogs senior coach Luke Beveridge that was the final straw in helping convince the experienced Hawk to bring his booming left boot across town to the kennel.
Within 48 hours, one of the game’s most sought after unrestricted free agents was pulling on the hoops of the Western Bulldogs before the cameras of the footy media.
Speaking to westernbulldogs.com.au, senior assistant coach Brett Montgomery said that Suckling has already had an enormous impact on his new teammates, both on and off the field.
“The way he trains and being able to lead on field is always a pretty good start, (and) his involvement and his interaction in team meetings has been noticeable.
“It’s always difficult coming in and meeting 43 guys for the first time as well, but his presence is felt for sure.”
The 27 year old Suckling signed a three year deal in October that will see him at the Club until at least the end of the 2018 season after 102 games with Hawks, a career that included spots in Hawthorn’s 2014 and 2015 premiership sides.
But just where Suckling and his elite left boot spend the 2016 is still up for debate according to Montgomery, who said that he’ll be given the opportunity in multiple positions after playing largely as a defender at Hawthorn.
“Matty, still having his best footy in front of him, I don’t think we know what his best spot is just yet and we certainly haven’t put a ceiling or any restrictions on that, he said.
“We’ll explore playing all areas of the ground with him before we settle.”
Another experienced player who’s made a strong impression on his new teammates is former Brisbane Lion Jed Adcock.
Montgomery said that like Suckling, Adcock impressed from day one and he expects him to inject some valuable experience into the young Bulldog forward line.
“He’s been one of those players who in the twilight of their career has been able to go to the other end of the ground and survive, or even better, succeed. He’s kicked four goals multiple times, which is a great effort.
“There’s a lot of things we value about our forward line that isn’t just about taking marks and kicking goals, so we think he’s got a pretty well rounded game, he said.
“You’ve got to remember our forward line is one of the younger areas of our ground, so to have an experienced head go into that area, if he does go forward, I think it will be helpful.”
The Dogs will go into season 2016 with the fifth youngest list in the AFL for age, and the fourth youngest for games played, and Montgomery believes both players have brought with them the kind of experience that any young side would benefit from.
“From day one they’ve been true professionals, they’re both from different backgrounds but they both bring enormous experience to the group.
“They’ve both played in some very good teams and some big games and they’ve both been leaders in their own right, so they both bring a lot when they come here, but the best thing for us is that they’ve fitted in straight away.
“They’re great for our younger guys, they add to our on ground coaching as well, which is something we always look for.”