A switch to the back line has brought out the best in Bailey Dale.
The 24-year-old is in the middle of a career-best season, after making the move to defence late in the 2021 pre-season.
“I was on the fringe a little bit last year and thought I’d go and speak to Bevo at the start of pre-season to see where I was at and what I had to do to get into the team,” Dale told SEN 1116 this week.
“The idea (of playing back) was kind of floated, but we didn’t really think it would come to fruition.
“The last practice match this year I played a quarter down back and we just sort of went from there.
“It’s been a good move so far.”
Dale has played all 12 games at AFL level this season – the most he has featured in since 2017 (16 games).
He has been an influential figure in the Bulldogs’ 10-2 start to the year.
Playing across half back, Dale has averaged more than 24 disposals and almost 500 metres gained per game – while still pushing forward to kick six goals.
He has become an important part of the Bulldogs’ rebounding brigade, alongside the likes of Caleb Daniel, Bailey Williams, Hayden Crozier and Taylor Duryea.
“I felt like I’d just go down there and play my role, use my skills and my speed, and hopefully I’d fit in well,” Dale said of fitting in in defence.
“That seems to have been the case so far.
“(My role) has been to help out in the air, get back and help out our big boys and then to use the ball well to take us forward. It’s about using the attributes that I’ve got and being clean with the footy.”