Over the next fortnight, westernbulldogs.com.au will take a look back on a season like no other – 2020 – reviewing every player who featured in more than three AFL games.
It was a breakthrough year for Ryan Gardner, who established himself in the Bulldogs’ back line by season’s end.
The 23-year-old made his AFL debut in 2019 and added 10 games to his tally this year.
Playing on some of the competition’s best forwards, Gardner only improved with each game he played at the top level and provided important support for the likes of Alex Keath, Zaine Cordy and Easton Wood.
He was a clear leader in the spoils department – averaging 7.2 per game. Next best was Cordy, with four per game.
By the numbers…
Spoils: 7.2 (1st)
Best game: Gardner’s best came in the Bulldogs’ late run to the finals, in round 17 against Hawthorn. He had just nine disposals, but it was his defensive work that stood out. A career-best 12 spoils were complemented by five marks, five intercepts and three tackles in a 36-point win at Adelaide Oval.
Lachie Hunter had his challenges throughout 2020, but his best performances on-field were as strong as ever.
The 25-year-old missed four games early due to a club suspension and a further four mid-season due to personal issues. But his return, in round 12 against the Adelaide Crows, aligned with the Bulldogs’ form streak where they won five of six games to reach the finals.
Hunter returned with 29 disposals and a goal against the Crows, and a passionate goal celebration.
His ability to find the ball and drive the Bulldogs into attack was as important as ever, as was his voice and on-field leadership.
By the numbers…
Marks: 5.4 (1st)
Score involvements: 6.4 (1st)
Inside 50s: 3.3
Metres gained: 389.9
Best game: With a finals spot up for grabs, Hunter was sensational in round 18 against Fremantle. He racked up 35 disposals and kicked a goal – and arguably should have had a couple for his efforts in a five-goal triumph. Hunter had a game-high 601 metres gained, had nine score involvements and five inside-50s. And three Brownlow votes.