17/04/2024

Marcus Bontempelli is set for more midfield time in 2023. (Image: Daniel Pockett)

Marcus Bontempelli is set to spend a larger portion of his playing time in 2023 in the midfield as the Bulldogs’ tall forward quartet takes shape.

Bontempelli will unsurprisingly spend the vast majority of this season in the midfield, but perhaps more so than we have seen in previous years given the size of the tall forwards of the Bulldogs.

It means that he will spend a lesser amount of his game time ‘resting’ in the front half of the ground as he still provides that dominance as both an aerial and ground-level threat around goal.

The Bulldogs captain is many people’s Brownlow medal prediction on the back of his 23.5 disposals, 5.5 clearances and 1.1 goals per game in 2022.

The four-time All-Australian is in the prime of his career and his Bulldogs look set for a big season ahead on the back of a dominant pre-season win over North Melbourne.

Bontempelli at the AFL Captain’s Day at Marvel Stadium. (Image: Western Bulldogs)

Bontempelli spoke to The Inner Sanctum on AFL Captain’s Day highlighting whether he will spend more time in the midfield given the size the Bulldogs have inside 50.

“It probably will (mean more midfield time) for now,” Bontempelli said.

“It’s not as much of a necessity for me to be down there from a height perspective. It’s now the land of the giants where we used to be a medium to tall-sized forward line with Aaron (Naughton) and Jamarra (Ugle-Hagan).”

Bontempelli further discussed how big-name recruit Rory Lobb and future star Sam Darcy add even more height for the Bulldogs.

“Now adding Rory Lobb who’s genuinely 200cm and from an aerial perspective he’s quite long,” Bontempelli said.

“So I’ll still be mixing it up a little bit down there but mostly probably midfield at this stage.”

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The Bulldogs captain highly praised Darcy, who looks set to spend a bit more time forward this year almost as a ‘swingman’ role.

The 19-year-old featured late last season and spent his time in defence where the Bulldogs lacked depth. Darcy averaged 11.5 disposals and two intercept marks in his four games last season which included the Elimination Final.

“Obviously he is very young still and we’re keen to allow him to grow at a fair rate,” Bontempelli said.

“We want him to be the best he can be as soon as he can be. But I think with that mixture of talls down there it’ll allow him to develop without too much pressure on him.

“I think he can be one of the best players in the comp one day just with his mix of coordination and aerial ability.”

The Western Bulldogs face Melbourne in the opening round of the season which is set to give them a real test and see where they’re really at in their 2023 campaign.

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