Bulldog flag duo chasing one spot
JASON Johannisen or Mitch Wallis?
With young forward Cody Weightman set to miss the AFL preliminary final through concussion protocols, Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge must decide which of his two premiership players gets the nod when his side plays off for a grand final berth.
Or does he instead opt for forward Anthony Scott, who’s played 20 games this year?
Two of the three could even face Port Adelaide if skipper Marcus Bontempelli’s knee doesn’t get up for the clash with Port Adelaide on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs have used a league-high 41 players across the year, and that rotation policy could become crucial when choosing a replacement for Weightman.
“Cody’s been tremendous in recent times, so when you say suitable (replacement), you’re not going to get another Cody Weightman,” Beveridge said in the wake of the Bulldogs’ thrilling 11.13 (79) to 11.12 (78) win over the Brisbane Lions at the Gabba on Saturday night.
“His game now … he’s that player where when you play West Coast we think about Liam Ryan because he’s such a terrific aerialist for a small forward with great speed and clean at ground level.
“Cody’s sort of moving into that area where he’s really difficult to defend because he got an air and a ground game.
“But I suppose this is what happens and we’ve needed most of our list to play AFL footy this year and our boys have done an outstanding job.
“We’ve had critical role players contribute to really important victories and we’ll need to call on a handful of those boys to play in a preliminary final. The great thing is they’ll come into the team and feel like they’ve contributed in the past.
“We’ll have a different player to replace Cody who’ll bring a different skillset, but there are some lads there waiting in the wings who’ll come in and be an important part of our make-up.”
Johannisen, the 2016 Norm Smith Medallist, may be in the box seat after coming on as the medical sub against the Lions when Weightman came off.
Wallis, who was the Bulldogs’ leading goal-kicker last year, has played just six games this year and last made a senior appearance in round 17.
Comparisons to the Bulldogs’ fairytale run in the 2016 finals are now inevitable after the club’s surge from outside the top four to now be knocking on the door of a grand final appearance.
The burning question for the Dogs is whether or not they have the petrol tickets to keep riding the wave deep into September. Beveridge, again, is daring to dream.