The Western Bulldogs will have a second debutant for the 2020 season, with Laitham Vandermeer to take his place against St Kilda at Marvel Stadium on Sunday.
Vandermeer, a 21-year-old in his second year at VU Whitten Oval, has impressed the Dogs’ hierarchy with his form on the track since the players have returned from isolation.
He has had to bide his time before being given an opportunity to make his AFL debut, after being recruited from the Murray Bushrangers at pick 37 in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft.
Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge broke the news to the players after Thursday’s main training session at VU Whitten Oval.
“It still hasn’t sunk in. I had no idea. I went for a lap, came back and my name got called out. A few of the boys said my face went white,” Vandermeer said.
“It’s a long time coming, and I’ve dreamed about this day for a while. It’s finally good to get the reward for the hard work.”
Vandermeer played 15 games in the VFL for Footscray in 2019 (he missed eight games through injury), averaging 15 disposals.
He saved his best game for the Club’s VFL final against Port Melbourne, collecting a season-high 24 possessions.
He was also the travelling AFL emergency for the Bulldogs’ Round 13 win against Port Adelaide last year.
Vandermeer signed a one-year contract extension in December, keeping him at the Club until at least the end of the 2021 season.