16/04/2024

Ryley Sanders is one of two Bulldogs to make his AFL debut. (Photo: AFL Photos/Supplied)

The Western Bulldogs have announced that both  Ryley Sanders and  Harvey Gallagher will make their AFL debuts against the Demons on Sunday afternoon. 

Western Bulldogs duo Ryley Sanders and  Harvey Gallagher will make their AFL debuts against the Demons on Sunday afternoon. 

Sanders was taken at Pick 6 in last year’s draft and has quickly impressed not only Bulldogs fans but fans right across the competition. 

The news comes after coach Luke Beveridge sang the 19-year-old’s praises in his weekly press conference at Mission Whitten Oval on Tuesday morning. 

“In a significant way, he’s well ahead of any first-year players that I’ve ever seen come through our football club,” Beveridge said.

The Bulldogs traded up with Gold Coast to acquire Sanders in last year’s draft with the Bulldogs giving up two first-rounders (Picks 10 and 17) and the club’s first-round pick in this year’s draft for what became Pick 6 after the academy bid on Jed Walter.  

“It’s a pleasant surprise because Sam (Power) worked really hard in negotiations to get us in a good position to have the opportunity to possibly bring Ryley in,” Beveridge said.

“To pull that off was a bit of a coup for us. We feel he’s got a really bright future.”

The 19-year-old impressed across the pre-season and in the pre-season match against Hawthorn down in Tasmania. The young gun recorded 30 disposals, 10 score involvements, four tackles and four clearances.

Sanders said he’s looking forward to the opportunity to play his first game against a strong side in the Demons. 

“It feels great – I’ve just been stoked with how welcoming all the players and coaches have been towards me. I’ve just felt so comfortable and they’ve let me do the things that got me drafted, so I’m glad that’s shown in the pre-season and Bevo and the coaches have picked me,” Sanders said.

“It’s an unreal opportunity to debut at any time, but especially in round one in front of a big crowd at the MCG against a good side in Melbourne – it’ll be great.”

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It hasn’t been an easy road to his debut game after an injury-interrupted 2023 saw him spend most of his time in the VFL during his first season at the Bulldogs.  Gallagher was taken at Pick 39 in the 2022 draft and has been touted as having an impressive work-rate and speed. 

Sanders and Gallagher join  off-season recruits Nick Coffield, James Harmes and Lachie Bramble in pulling one l on the red, white and blue for the first time in round one with the club confirming that the five players will be making their AFL and club debuts respectively 

James Harmes, Nick Coffield and Lachie Bramble will make their club debut. (Photo: Western Bulldogs)

Coffield will play his first game of AFL footy since Round 23 back in 2021 for St Kilda, with injury setbacks keeping him on the sidelines. While James Harmes will make his Bulldogs debut against his old side, after playing 152 games including the 2021 Premiership for the Demons. 

The Bulldogs will kick off the season against Melbourne at the MCG on Sunday Afternoon. 

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