The Western Bulldogs fielded one of the youngest – and most inexperienced – teams in the competition across 2019.
In all but two of 23 matches throughout the year, the Bulldogs fielded a younger and less experienced team than their opponents in terms of average age and games played.
The two exceptions to that were in round three and round 18, losses to the Gold Coast Suns and St Kilda respectively.
“We’re an incredibly young team still,” Bulldogs’ director of football Chris Grant told westernbulldogs.com.au
“In some ways over the last 12 months, we’ve actually got younger.”
The retirements of Liam Picken, Tom Boyd and Dale Morris – and injuries which restricted experienced players like Mitch Wallis, Tom Liberatore and Taylor Duryea – saw the Bulldogs call on younger players across the course of the year.
Draftee Bailey Smith played every game in his debut season, and was joined by Will Hayes, Lachie Young, Ryan Gardner and Rhylee West as young Bulldogs who pulled on the red, white and blue at AFL level for the first time.
At the business end of the season, nothing changed.
The Bulldogs fielded the youngest and least experienced team in the competition in round 23 – and with an average age of 23 years and 324 days and 76.6 games per player, were the youngest and least experienced team to play a final in 2019.
It highlights why the Bulldogs’ recruiting team are keen to add more experience to their list, after the important signings of Duryea and Sam Lloyd from other clubs this time last year.
Key position players Josh Bruce and Alex Keath – both 27 years old – are at the top of the wish list during the trade period.
“A couple of players we’re looking at at the moment we think fill that brief for us, but at the same time we’ve got to try to get the job done (in trade week),” Grant said.
“We’re quite confident that both those players will end up being Bulldog players by the end of it, which will be quite helpful for us.”