WESTERN Bulldog’s newest addition Sam Darcy may well – in his own words – have his champion father, Luke, “covered” when it comes to kicking a football, but that will not guarantee him a game next year when the Toyota AFL Premiership Season officially begins.
For the second consecutive year, the Bulldogs have been in a position where they have had to match a very early bid for a player they have the rights to in the NAB AFL Draft: this year with Darcy the bid came at No.2, and last year, with Jamarra Ugle-Hgan (from their Next Gen Academy), it came at No.1.
And while being a high draft pick suggests you have talent, getting a game at AFL level is a very different proposition, particularly at the Western Bulldogs – as Ugle-Hagan discovered this year.
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Throw in the fact that Darcy is a 200cm-plus beanpole, the Bulldogs are a strong team and have just played in a Grand Final, their forwardline is stacked, and your new coach has a reputation for not gifting games, and it’s not surprising the young man is embarking on his AFL journey with his eyes wide open and a preparedness to be patient and adapt.
Asked about Luke Beveridge’s handling of Ugle-Hagan’s development in 2021 (he played only five games and did not feature in the finals), Darcy said that he could potentially be in a “similar” role.
“But it depends on how I train over the pre-season and how the start of the year with games and stuff goes as well,” Darcy said.
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Darcy, a forward-ruck – he kicked six goals in an U19 trial game for Vic Metro this year – is also thinking about alternative positions if the forwardline is too hard to break into.
“They’ve got a really strong list at the moment and it’d definitely be a tough side to crack into,” he said.
“I’d have to put in a lot of work over the pre-season. I’ve played a lot of defence for Oakleigh this year and that’s potentially a position I could play if there’s no spot up forward.”
At least Darcy is starting his career on the right foot with his coach.
“I had dinner with [Beveridge] the other night and it was awesome to get to know him and Dana better, so that was awesome.”
Darcy said becoming an AFL player was only now starting to sink in and it was an “unbelievable feeling”.
“I heard some speculation the day before and all the rumours were suggesting that GWS was going to bid and, yeah, it happened and the Bulldogs matched and I’m lucky I can call myself a Doggie now.”
Darcy’s first day at the club will be on Monday but he will be on a modified training program for the first couple of weeks as he deals with a foot injury.
However, he said the injury was progressing well and he expected to start running in the next fortnight and would be “back into it at the new year”.