28/02/2024

Rory Lobb has requested a trade to the Western Bulldogs. (Photo: AFL.com.au/ Design: Will Cuckson)

After 65 games at the Dockers Rory Lobb has made the move official by requesting a trade to the Western Bulldogs before the 2023 pre-season.

The Dockers and Bulldogs agreed to a trade that saw him make the move to the Whitten Oval for the next season with the Bulldogs sending pick 30 and a future second rounder to Fremantle for the 29-year-old.

It’s the move that has left some of the AFL world bewildered with the Western Bulldogs in possession of a bounty of talent in the tall forward department with the likes of Josh Bruce, Aaron Naughton, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, and Sam Darcy all spending time up forward in 2022.

With Lobb a versatile option having spent time in the ruck and up forward at Fremantle, he could add a bit of key position depth that the Bulldogs are after.

Where does Lobb fit?

Along with the backline, one of the Bulldogs’ biggest inconsistencies in 2022 was its forward line. The Bulldogs had no issue getting the ball into the forward 50 but it was once the ball got down there, they couldn’t convert.

The addition of Lobb adds another key target up forward and takes the pressure off the likes of Naughton. While Naughton had a great season from a statistics point of view, kicking 51 goals across 22 games, he was inconsistent across the season.

Since returning to the AFL, after spending 12 months out with an ACL, Bruce only kicked one goal and seven behinds since returning, he could be assisted in the forward line with Lobb (36 goals from 21 games) who was a consistent contributor to the Dockers’ forward line this season.

The Bulldogs could opt for a three-pronged attack with the forward line centred around Lobb and Naughton with one of either Darcy or Ugle-Hagan in addition.

It allows for one of the three to dominate each week like we saw with Ugle-Hagan against Melbourne back in Round 19. One of the them will take the sides third best defender each week, opening them up to dominate on the scoreboard.

They will then be supported by the small forwards with the likes of Cody Weightman and Toby McLean able to contribute to the scoreboard when the ball hits the deck.

Lobb also adds a bit of extra height to the Bulldogs front line, with the forward standing at 2.06m with Naughton being 11 cm shorter.

The addition of Lobb also allows for the Bulldogs to have the two-ruckman set up fans saw in 2021 with Tim English and Stefan Martin. With either English or Lobb resting up forward when not on ruck duties.

Lobb and English going head to head. (Photo: AFL.com.au)

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What does Lobb’s arrival mean for the Bulldogs talls?

It’s going to be an interesting balancing act for Luke Beveridge and the coaching team at the Bulldogs. If there is one thing that Beveridge has done over the last few seasons, it’s his ability to move the magnets around.

Bailey Dale made the shift to half back at the start of 2021 after spending seasons up forward, this move saw him go from being on fringe to an All-Australian defender.

There could be a role change on the cards for one of the Bulldogs talls after this trade. One of those possibilities could be Naughton, who spent his junior career playing down back or swinging someone like Bruce down back to add that depth down back.

The addition of Lobb also takes the pressure off young guns in Darcy and Ugle-Hagan up forward. As Lobb will be that extra target up forward and a strong avenue to goal, so theres less of a load put on the shoulders of the two emerging stars.

Darcy has proved in just four games that he can play just about anywhere having spent time up forward, down back and can play in the ruck. So providing that option up forward allows for Darcy to take those intercept marks down back.

Lobb will be 30 years old by the time the start of the next season rolls around, giving Ugle-Hagan and Darcy time to develop into the strong options that we’ve seen them be capable of.

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