Western Bulldogs defender Ryan Gardner has put pen to paper on a three-year contract extension.
It’s a welcome reward and story of persistence for the 25-year-old, who has played 43 games in the red, white and blue since being picked up in the 2019 Mid-Season Rookie Draft.
Gardner spent three years on Geelong’s list from 2016-2018, before joining Footscray in 2019, and is one of four Bulldogs currently on the list to have come via the VFL pathway.
The Tasmanian enjoyed a career-high 22 outings in 2022, averaging 8.5 spoils (ranked elite), two intercept marks and eleven disposals per game.
Gardner finished 7th in the Charles Sutton Medal while also claiming the Brad Johnson Best Team Player award.
“It’s such a great achievement for me personally – I’ve had a few hiccups along the way, so to be able to get a three-year contract is just an amazing feeling,” Gardner said.
“It was a pretty easy option to stay – I didn’t really feel like going anywhere else. I really love it here and I think it’s the best place for me to be.
“I just want to keep playing good footy and having a say down there in the backline. I’m only 25, so still have so much growth in front of me.
“I want to keep developing and see where it can take me.”
General Manager of List and Recruiting, Sam Power, said it was pleasing to lock away Gardner until at least the end of 2026.
“Ryan’s commitment since walking through the door has been first-class and this new contract is reward for his hard work and persistence,” he said.
“In the space of three seasons, Ryan has become a mainstay of the Bulldogs defence, playing with courage and consistency against the talented forwards of the competition.
“We still believe Ryan has plenty of growth in his football and we’re thrilled he has committed to us for the next three seasons.”