1. Lach and load
The Bulldogs will welcome back experienced midfielder Lachie Hunter this week.
Hunter will no doubt have a point to prove against the Blues, after sitting out the past four weeks due to a club suspension.
He has been one of the Bulldogs’ most influential players in recent years – and one the competition’s best wingers – winning the Charles Sutton Medal in 2018 and recording a top-six finish last year.
And in a Bulldogs outfit that will again be one of the youngest in the competition this year, he looms as an important addition.
Can he come in and make an immediate impact?
2. Hub bragging rights
It’s a strange year, to say the least… and 2020 just keeps throwing up curveballs.
The Blues and Bulldogs will face off on neutral territory, at the Gold Coast’s Metricon Stadium.
Who would have predicted that at the start of the year?
Adding some extra spice to the contest is the fact that both teams are staying in the same hotel.
Not that the Bulldogs will need any more motivation to get the four points – but it sure would be nice to have bragging rights while in the coffee queue Monday morning.
3. Bontempelli v Cripps
Every week presents some heavyweight clashes.
And at the end of 2019, this one was split 1-1 – the same as the win-loss ledger between these two sides.
Patrick Cripps and Carlton were red-hot in round five, before Marcus Bontempelli and the Bulldogs turned the tables in a see-sawing round 13 contest.
It’s been a similar career trajectory for the two midfield stars, with both products of the 2013 NAB AFL Draft and now captaining their clubs.
You would expect to see them go head-to-head, at times, at stoppages – and that battle will have a big impact on the result.
4. Covering Croz
In the space of two-and-a-bit seasons, Hayden Crozier has arguably become one of the Bulldogs’ most important – and consistent – players.
He’s established himself in defence since crossing from Fremantle, forging a reputation as an elite kick and a courageous player in the air.
The Bulldogs haven’t been without him all that often – but will be this week, due to a one-game suspension.
And how they cover his absence against a Blues’ forward line which has threats in the air, like Levi Casboult, and at ground level – led by Eddie Betts – will be critically important.
The positive for the Bulldogs is that defensively they’ve been at the peak of their powers the past three weeks, conceding less than 40 points per game across that period.