This is the last in the series of ‘club preview’ posts written by DT TALK regular contributors choosing their 5 players they have on their watchlist from the respective club. These aren’t who we think will be the top 5 highest scoring players… and are not necessarily in order. They are just our opinions of the 5 players who we have on our watchlist heading into the 2012 season.
Aki’s five from the Kennel.
1. Matthew Boyd (MID), $573,800.
Has to be considered as one of the first picked in your dream team. Consistent, ball magnet and extremely hard worker. Boyd averaged 116 last year for the Doggies and was the only one to average over 100. Was only 14 points off being the highest scoring player for the year. Really nothing much to say except get on him!
2. Clay Smith (MID), $107,700.
With the likes of Magner, Neale, Zorko etc going down with injury, Clay Smith has popped up nicely in the preseason. Averaged 26 possessions and 5 tackles per game for the Gippsland Power last year and with Callan Ward packing his bags for GWS, it leaves a spot open for a ball winner at the Bulldogs. All indications lead to Smith getting a chance round 1, and if so, you’d be rude not to pick him up!
3. Ryan Hargrave (DEF), $232,700.
The 31 year old looks set to return to the DT world after a horrid 2011. Has looked very solid in his hit-outs so far for the Bulldogs and his run off half-back is vital to the Bulldogs set-up. Before last year, Hargrave had averaged over 70 in the previous 4 seasons with his best season in 2009 netting him 93 points a game in the 20 games he played. Not going to set the world ablaze but for his price, should be strongly considered as your 6th or 7th defender. For me, he is locked in.
4. Brian Lake (DEF), $255,200.
Another key piece of the Bulldogs puzzle returning after a poor and injury plagued 2011. Lake was dominating in 2010, to the point in which his stats resembled one of a ball magnet midfielder. He may have been playing kick to kick with himself as he managed to rack up over 40 touches one game off the back line! Averaged a coat of paint under 100 per game in 2010 in which he played in all 22. The truth is, in order for the Bulldogs to perform at the best, they need Brian Lake to play at his. The All-Australian of 2010 looks set for a big year this year and with the Bulldogs having some extra legs to run off half-back, the only real issue is how they will use Lake week in week out. He would be a pretty safe bet to get in early.
5. Shaun Higgins (MID/FWD) $417,100.
Yep, I went there. OK, so you are shouting and cursing and smashing keyboards, and grabbing band-aids and cotton wool and applying it to the photo of him you have on your dartboard which actually resembles something you’ve used to strain pasta and saying to yourself a wet paper bag is tougher and more reliable than Higgins, but I went there, for good reason. I have picked Higgins for the past two seasons. He has hurt me yes but the guy can play football and when fit, is in the Doggies top 5, in my opinion. Maybe this is the year young Higgins steps out and has a full season and delivers consistently on what he shows glimpses of! He is a risk and I am sure as spoken on DT Talk quite often, he has been put into the “People you wouldn’t trust with a bar of soap” category. But… there is every chance he will play 20 games and average over 100 as a DPP. That, is something to think about.
OTHERS ON THE WATCHLIST: The feeling I get with the Bulldogs is there are so many possibilities of break-out years or players ready to take the next step. The likes of Daniel Cross (MID) $481,100, Ryan Griffen (MID) $486,500 and Adam Cooney (MID) $394,600 could all well and truly average in the 90’s and maybe sneak over 100, but there are far too many other options out there. Old DT favourites Lindsay Gilbee (DEF) $318,900 and Daniel Giansiracusa (FWD) $436,800 are also in the same boat, both capable of averaging 85+ but with so many 2nd-3rd year Bulldogs coming through, you would be brave. Others to take a look at would be: Luke Dahlhaus (FWD) $315,200 who seems to be a cult figure at the Kennel and looks set to build on last year. Christian Howard (DEF) $251,400 and Easton Wood (DEF) $255,900 both could be nice unique picks this year, but once again, with Hargrave, Lake and Gilbee down back, who on earth do you go with? My roughies would be Ayce Cordy (RUC) $178,100, now that Ben Hudson has departed, it opens a door for Ayce to get some more game time if he stays fit.
I’d also quickly like to give a big shout out to everyone who has contributed this Pre-Season (and earlier) to the articles on DT Talk. With Warnie, Roy and Calvin putting in the hard yards each week to continue to give us a central point for our Dream Team, so many people have stepped up and delivered some amazing articles to help them out. Brilliant effort I say.With all that being said, keep an eye out for the first annual DT Talk League Challenge. My Beasts from the East vs Tbetta’s boys from the West. Going to be great fun all year, and if you don’t have Twitter, I’d jump on now!
Also, the Dream Team Stock Market will be returning at the end of Round 2.
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