Rising star Aaron Naughton has signed a long-term deal with the Western Bulldogs.
The 19-year-old, who was contracted until the end of 2020, has put pen to paper on a four-year extension which will see him remain in the red, white and blue until at least the end of 2024.
Naughton has fast become an integral part of the Bulldogs’ line-up.
The West Australian was selected with pick nine in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft, and in his 21 AFL matches has impressed as both a key defender and key forward.
General Manager of List and Recruiting, Sam Power, said the Club was thrilled to have Naughton commit long-term.
“Aaron is only in his second year at AFL level and is already a critical member of our team. He clearly has a bright future in the game and is only going to keep improving,” Power said.
“His competitiveness, athleticism and ability to take contested marks make him an incredibly valuable player in today’s game. Finishing fourth in our best and fairest last season as a first-year player was an outstanding effort, and we have been excited by the way he can compete at both ends of the ground.
“Pleasingly, this has been a relatively quick process. It’s no surprise we were keen to lock Aaron in long-term, and the negotiations with his manager Andrew McDougall went really smoothly.
“We believe this re-signing demonstrates Aaron’s belief in the Club and where we are heading, and the environment that’s been created by the coaching group and playing group.
“To be able to lock in a young, key position player of his quality is extremely encouraging, as we continue to build for success as a Club.”
Naughton’s new deal follows the five-year extension of reigning best and fairest Lachie Hunter last month, and two-year extension of vice-captain Marcus Bontempelli late last year.
Emerging players Pat Lipinski, Lachie Young and Fergus Greene have also recently re-signed.
Naughton said he was looking forward to a long career as a Bulldog.
“I’m just loving it here at the footy club, so there was no reason not to sign up for an extension,” Naughton said.
“We’re a really young side that are really starting to gel together. I think we’ve already shown early in the year that when we do bring our best footy, it’s pretty exciting to watch and it’s good fun to go out there and play.
“Where I want to be in a couple of years, is just (being) a player that my teammates can rely on, that every week they know what they’re going to get out of me – whether that’s a strong contest up forward, or to be able to lock down a forward down back.
“It’s pretty special to me to be able to live out what I dreamed of as a kid. For the Bulldogs to give me the opportunity to play for their Club, I just want to repay that faith.”