Dashing Dog’s surprise at new role
IT came as a surprise to Western Bulldogs dasher Bailey Dale when coach Luke Beveridge proposed he switch ends at the huddle of a pre-season game.
Just months later, Dale is the number one ranked general defender in the league, ahead of highly-touted names such as Adam Saad, Christian Salem and Jordan Ridley.
It comes less than two years after he booted 20 goals in six games as the Dogs surged into a finals place in 2019.
“I was a little bit taken aback,” Dale told SEN’s Bob and Andy.
“I thought I mustn’t have been going very well up forward for him to swing me back in the last quarter of our Hawthorn praccy game.”
Dale kicked goals in seven consecutive appearances in 2020, but couldn’t recapture his white-hot form of the season prior.
Drafted at the end of 2014, he has rarely settled in a position at the elite level, even spending a stint on the wing in 2017.
The 24-year-old may have found his niche however, with his new role producing averages of 22 disposals, six intercepts, five rebound 50s and 429 metres gained, and four goals to boot.
“I try to use the things I didn’t like as a forward, and just put them in place when I’m playing down back,” Dale detailed.
“To play a really assertive brand, and try to use the ball as well as I can and play my role for the team.”
Dale is in good hands; his line coach is Dogs great Rohan Smith, who played 300 games and won two All-Australian selections at half back before mentoring the defenders of the 2016 premiership team.
“Bubba has been really good, I’ve done my review with him every week since being down back. He’s a really positive guy, he doesn’t really have a negative (thing) to say,” Dale added.
“Some guidance there from him has been great, I love working with him.”
Dale and the Dogs reclaimed their place on the winners list by beating Carlton at Marvel Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
– BY NATHAN JOHN/ SEN