Aaron Naughton’s move forward has been a game-changer for the Bulldogs. Picture: Michael Klein
Aaron Naughton’s move forward has been a game-changer for the Bulldogs. Picture: Michael Klein

Have Dogs found their ultimate swingman?

Luke Beveridge has hailed Aaron Naughton's ability to effortlessly switch forward on just weeks notice as the Dogs' next-generation attack begins to take shape.

The second-year star was pushed forward by Beveridge late in the pre-season when the Dogs' front six lacked star power and weaponry.

Not only did Naughton deliver the full package in the win over Sydney - three goals, five inside-50 marks, two direct assists, eight score involvements - he went back to stem the tide late.

Now the Dogs not only have a player who like Chris Grant can easily swing forward and back, Josh Schache showed glimpses of his talent and Billy Gowers returned to form.

It was only one night, but Beveridge now has a forward line to build around.

In the previous two seasons the Dogs had only four players who played more than 10 games as a permanent forward, while Collingwood had 12 and Richmond 10.

Naughton's presence was so strong the Dogs targeted him a team-high 13 times inside 50, with Schache hit up seven times.

Aaron Naughton’s move forward has been a game-changer for the Bulldogs. Picture: Getty Images
Aaron Naughton’s move forward has been a game-changer for the Bulldogs. Picture: Getty Images

"I thought (Naughton) was outstanding and I don't know if he got any free kicks but he was very good down there and Schache complimented him well and Billy who hasn't been playing his best footy after an interrupted pre-season. So it's good to see him show some signs down there," Beveridge said.

Beveridge conceded the positional switch had come late in the pre-season and despite some criticism after the Blues found Jacob Weitering battling after playing at both ends early in his career.

"It was reasonably late. We didn't train that up for a very long time but Naughts has listened to all the messages around what we do in our forward half and how we want to connect.

"So he has been schooled in it even if he didn't play there and he's taken to it like a duck to water and he was very, very good and helped us when we swung him back late."

Beveridge was thrilled with Tom Liberatore's impact after his second ACL reconstruction, the Dogs inside midfielder amassing 28 possessions, eight clearances and eight inside-50s.

The challenge now is to ensure his motivation and professionalism remains high after a superb summer.

"He slotted in and had a pretty good night, and he will hopefully keep getting better and better," he said.

"He's come back from two ACLs and he's a player who has been through some challenging times as everyone does through the rehab process but he looks as fit as he has been and he's strong and we just have to keep him there now."

The Dogs will continue to play only Tim English in the ruck, with Jackson Trengove pushed out of the side and playing VFL practice matches.

Matt Suckling will be fit to play against Hawthorn, with Beveridge saying he had not complained about the Marvel Stadium surface despite it appearing to slip on him.

Beveridge backed in the sliding rule as worthy but hard to adjudicate after Patrick Dangerfield strong criticised it during several contentious Saturday night decisions.

News Corp Australia


Brides of the Coffs Coast

Brides of the Coffs Coast

Check out some of the beautiful weddings across the region.

Loaded weapon found by Coffs/Clarence police

Loaded weapon found by Coffs/Clarence police

RBT stop leads to find in back of car

PHOTOS: High spirits at Coffs Harbour Relay for Life 2019

premium_icon PHOTOS: High spirits at Coffs Harbour Relay for Life 2019

IT'S all smiles at the Coffs Harbour Go Cart Track for the event.