Despite a knee injury threatening to derail his first season at the Kennel, Hayden Crozier went on to play an important role in the Dogs' defence in 2018.
After 69 games at Fremantle, spent mainly as a forward, Crozier was able to reinvent himself at the Bulldogs, taking on a rebounding role off half-back.
“You go through the build up to the pre-season and get to the JLT series, and you really want to make an impact, especially at a new club,” Crozier told westerbulldogs.com.au.
“In round one, Libba did his ACL and I did my MCL. I was so bummed (about my injury) but it could have been worse.
“I ended up missing four weeks, while Libba was obviously out for the whole year. You can take the positive and negatives of a situation, and, I guess, that was probably one of them.”
Crozier returned in Round 6 and finished the year playing 17 games. He had a career high 30 disposals, five marks and 12 rebound 50s against North Melbourne in Round 14.
“An injury always puts you back a little bit and then when you get back into the team you need to get confidence,” he said.
“I had done a lot of rehab for my knee in order to get it right. I felt for probably the first three or four weeks after I came back from injury I was defending quite well.
“It was more offensive stuff, getting involved in chains and breaking the play open. It took a little bit more time getting used to. As the season wore on, I got more comfortable in my role, got more comfortable in general, more confident with the way I was playing and the way I was feeling. I think I finished off the year pretty well.”
Crozier said the support of development coach Jamie Maddocks had been important for his confidence.
“It’s been a bit of a different role for me (at the Bulldogs). I played a year at half back at Freo, but the other five years were playing as a forward. Technically it is still a new role for me, but I feel it’s something that suits the way I like to play,” he said.
“We had a fair few injuries throughout the year, especially to key position players. I found myself at times, especially when I came back from my knee, having to play on taller, bigger opponents.
“That probably stopped the way I was wanting to run off and really create. I guess as a general defender it’s something that suits me a little bit, probably being able to play on talls and smalls.
“I’m quite comfortable with playing a role and doing whatever the coaches want me to.
“I’ve loved every minute of it down there.”