At the start of 2020, a three-pronged tall forward set-up looked to be a real possibility for the Western Bulldogs.
One man that snuck under the radar was Mitch Wallis.
And perhaps somewhat surprisingly, he’s the Bulldogs’ joint leading goal-kicker – alongside one of those tall forwards, recruit Josh Bruce – after seven rounds.
The Bulldogs’ forward line has taken on a number of different looks already in 2020.
Aaron Naughton and Sam Lloyd, the two leading goal-kickers, have missed large chunks through injury. Laitham Vandermeer has made the most of his opportunities since a round two debut. Josh Schache has had an opportunity, so to Rhylee West and last week’s debutant, Cody Weightman.
Wallis, one of the Bulldogs’ leaders, has been a constant and important presence.
He’s missed a lot of footy in recent years – playing just 47 of a possible 83 games, since a serious leg injury in 2016.
But he’s now benefitting from a sustained run and a settled role, transitioning from an inside midfielder to a crafty goal-kicker who is strong overhead and hard at the ball.
“Having a clear focus of being a forward has helped,” Wallis told Fox Footy this week.
“I’ve been spending a lot of time with Ash Hansen, our forwards coach, just working on intricate little details of forward craft and that’s really helped me.
“I feel like I’m an important pillar of our forward line at the moment in how we’re structured up.”
His ability to convert has been paramount.
Wallis snagged three goals straight against Essendon in Friday night’s important win.
That leaves him with an accurate 9.2 for the season, with goals in every game bar one.
“It’s about making the most of your opportunities,” Wallis said.
“Forward lines these days aren’t touching the ball that often, if you get a dozen touches you’re actually having a good impact on the game.
“I’ve been lucky enough to hit the scoreboard on occasions.”