Building his best pre-season to date, emerging Bulldog Bailey Williams is determined to make 2019 his year.
The 21-year-old established himself at AFL level last year, settling into the Dogs’ defensive unit and playing a career-high 14 matches despite a late-season foot injury.
He’s confident he can build his output this season after a strong training block.
“I came back probably in the best nick I have,” Williams told westernbulldogs.com.au.
“This is probably the best pre-season I’ve had so far (in my career).
“Last year I had a foot injury in the last seven weeks, which was a bit frustrating, but before that I’d really cemented my spot as a defender. Then over my last three games I moved into the midfield, and I’ve tried to work on that in pre-season.”
After getting a taste of playing in the midfield last season, Williams has transitioned to that role during the pre-season and is confident he can play a key role for the Dogs in 2019.
He credits assistant coach Joel Corey, and teammates Mitch Wallis, Marcus Bontempelli, Josh Dunkley and Tom Liberatore as those who have helped him develop.
“This whole pre-season I’ve spent 100 per cent of my time in the midfield, learning off blokes like ‘Wall’, ‘Bont’, ‘Dunks’ and ‘Libba’,” Williams said.
“They’ve all been pretty good, and Joel Corey’s been helping me out with trying to learn the structures and the rotations at the centre bounce and all that stuff.
“It’s just about finding the next level, and hopefully I can take my game there.
“I just want to keep growing, keep developing my midfield knowledge and taking that to the next level. I feel like I can really have an impact this year and start to dominate a few games, which would be good.”
Working on his fitness has been a big focus, and with the season just around the corner, match practice has taken centre stage in the Dogs’ training schedule.
Williams believe the group is well-placed to hit the ground running in 2019.
“Mooloolaba was a good stint of match-play, and as soon as the matches start rolling around you can see the competitive juices start to come out,” he said.
“It’s exciting, especially with a healthy group and numbers out on the track.
“There’s not many injuries, so everyone’s fighting for spots and it’s pretty challenging at the moment.”