Season in short:
At 22-years old, it’s hard to fathom that Mitch Wallis is an old head in the Bulldogs midfield, but it’s true.
With a maturity belying his years, Wallis consolidated his role as a key-ingredient in the Bulldogs midfield mix before a foot fracture cut short his season in round 18.
A month back in the VFL early in the year helped recalibrate Wallis’ on-field radar, returning with a ferocious defensive ethic.
While not as prolific finding the ball as previous years, it was his blocking, tackling and ability to clear space around the stoppages that allowed his teammates to reap the benefits.
Wallis’ injury against Essendon perhaps best illustrated his value to the Bulldogs side. Restricting Bomber play-maker Dyson Heppell to just14 disposals to three quarter time, Wallis coming from the field at the final break saw Heppell gather eight final term touches and lead the Dons’ seven-point come-from-behind win, after they trailed by 21-points.
A 28-disposal, eight clearance performance in the Bulldogs’ 28-point victory over the Gold Coast Suns was arguably Wallis’ most influential of the year. He also negated the influence of Suns’ star midfield pair Dion Prestia and David Swallow.
Playing 13 games in season 2014, Wallis played his 50th game in the Dogs’ round 12 loss to Brisbane.
The stat that mattered
80% of Mitch Wallis’ possessions in season 2014 were under pressure, the highest percentage in the competition, highlighting his pivotal role for the Bulldogs midfield in and around the contest.
What they said:
“It’s very exciting from a player, who has only been there four years, but feels like there’s so much youth underneath him.” Mitch Wallis (17 July, 2014)
Season in short:
While a promising start gave way to a quiet patch mid-season, four weeks spent with Williamstown evidently worked wonders for Wallis. The much-lauded third-year midfielder began to show the Bulldogs faithful what can be expected in seasons to come, adding a more defensive side to his overall game. Taking the scalps of some of the competition’s biggest stars late in the season, the likes of Marc Murphy (Carlton), Patrick Dangerfield (Adelaide) and Daniel Rich (Brisbane Lions) all succumbed to the young Dog. But his greatest performance came against Sydney in Round 19, when Wallis racked up 29 disposals and 13 tackles, while holding Sydney superstar Josh Kennedy to just 18 touches.
What they said:
''[I’m] cooked, absolutely cooked… I think it was the story of the day - the pressure they applied, I just felt like I had no room to move.”
- Josh Kennedy after playing against Mitch Wallis in Round 19, SMH
The stat that mattered:
Wallis’s increased defensive responsibility has seen him rise in the Bulldogs' rankings, finishing the season fifth in average pressure acts (14.2). A culmination of corralling, chasing, closing in on opponents, implied and physical pressure, the 20-year-old has been honing his defensive craft and it's paying dividends on field. The increased pressure has been an integral factor in his growing ability as a run with player. He also ranks second at the Club – behind only Tom Liberatore (8.7) – in physical pressure acts (7.6).
Named amongst the best players in six of his 19 AFL appearances, Wallis’s jump in form can be clearly seen on the stats board. Averaging ten more disposals and almost four extra clearances per game, the Calder Cannons recruit certainly looked more comfortable at the highest level this year. Accumulating the third most disposals, fourth highest number of clearances and fourth most tackles at the Club this season, Wallis capped off his second AFL season ranking third in this year’s AFL Rising Star Award.
Season By Season
The son of former skipper Steve Wallis played six games in his debut season, highlighted by his 18 disposals against Fremantle in round 24 and nine tackles against Geelong in round nine. Shows great maturity for a 19-year-old and has improved his strength and endurance in an impressive campaign over summer.