Mitch Wallis expects to benefit from his first full summer training with the Western Bulldogs’ forward line as he takes on another new role as the AFL club’s vice-captain.
Wallis replaces Lachie Hunter, who relinquished the position as Marcus Bontempelli’s deputy following a drink-driving incident last year.
The 28-year-old was a stand-out choice in a player vote announced this week, after returning from a serious ankle injury to be a revelation in attack last season.
The former midfielder topped the club’s goal-kicking with 25 from 18 matches, including a career-best haul of four majors against Melbourne in round 13.
He also kicked three goals on three separate occasions as the Bulldogs reached an elimination final.
“It’s my first pre-season training with the forward line group so I’m excited to extend some of my capabilities down there and have a real impact early in the season,” Wallis said.
“We’ve got a really strong midfield now and it looks like we’re going to get plenty of supply, so I’m very excited for it.”
Wallis expects the Bulldogs’ deep rotation of midfielders to roll through the forward line, including star man Bontempelli, and tipped their array of tall marking options to cause problems.
Emerging gun Aaron Naughton is coming off a strong pre-season, Josh Schache is fit again after an ankle injury and Josh Bruce has impressed over summer after a subdued first season in Dogs colours after crossing from St Kilda.
Tim English and former Brisbane big man Stefan Martin could also spend time forward as they share ruck duties.
“It’s coming along really well,” Wallis said.
“We’ve been really specific about some of the styles we want to play and how we want to enter inside 50.
“We’re going well, but the proof is in the pudding when we start playing games against the opposition.”
The Bulldogs meet Hawthorn in a practice match on Wednesday before taking on Melbourne the following week in an official pre-season fixture.
They are scheduled to open their 2021 season proper against Collingwood in a Friday night blockbuster on March 19.