Cody Weightman sees distinct parallels between Jamarra Ugle-Hagan's career trajectory and his own rise to prominence as the former No.1 draft pick seeks to stamp his mark on the AFL next year.
Weightman played just three games in his debut season before a breakout 2021 campaign, kicking 26 goals in 16 games and featuring in the Bulldogs' beaten grand final side.
Ugle-Hagan, the top lottery selection in 2020, had to wait until round 17 this year for his AFL debut and played only five games before being left out of the finals campaign.
The 19-year-old has reported back to Whitten Oval for the start of pre-season training this week fitter and stronger as he and this year's No.2 draft pick Sam Darcy eye an opportunity to break into Luke Beveridge's team.
Experienced key forward Josh Bruce is unavailable for at least the first half of 2022 as he recovers from a torn anterior cruciate ligament.
"In my first year I came in and had to work on a few things and wasn't quite the player that I wanted to be yet," Weightman said.
"After the draft when you do (get picked) a little bit higher, you feel like you're ready and you've been pumped up for so long.
"It feels like it's going to happen and when it doesn't happen it's certainly disappointing.
"But I went away and worked really hard in the off-season at the end of my first year and by the way Jamarra's come back (it looks like) he's done exactly that.
"The way I'm seeing it, we're on a similar journey and hopefully he can have a really good second year."
Father-son selection Darcy, the son of club great Luke Darcy, is a 205cm ruck-forward prospect who could change the Bulldogs' attacking dynamic.
"He's another one that will put his hand up," Weightman said.
"He's a big boy and I was fortunate enough to train with Sam a few times prior to getting drafted and he's got a really promising football future."
Weightman had ankle surgery at the end of last season and spent six weeks in a moon boot but will gradually ramp up his running program in the coming weeks.
The spring-heeled small forward expects the pain of the grand final loss to Melbourne to drive the Bulldogs over summer, leading into a likely round-one showdown with the Demons at the MCG.
That match is tipped to be confirmed by the AFL when it releases the season fixture this month.
"It feels like there's a bit of emptiness in last (season) and something that we've certainly left out there and we've got to go after now," Weightman said.
"It's bittersweet last (season) for me.
"My dream was always to start playing AFL and I managed to do that, which was pretty awesome, but there certainly could've been an added bonus to that which didn't happen."