Selection squeeze a winner for Bulldogs: Weightman

Anna Harrington |

Jack McRae (r) is battling to find a place in the Bulldogs run-on team but it’s not all bad.
Jack McRae (r) is battling to find a place in the Bulldogs run-on team but it’s not all bad.

Small forward Cody Weightman believes Jack Macrae’s inability to crack the Western Bulldogs’ first-choice midfield is a good sign of their growth.

And the red-hot livewire thinks versatile key forward Aaron Naughton should stay up front with him, rather than return to the back.

Macrae had a restricted pre-season and has been overlooked by coach Luke Beveridge for youngsters Ryley Sanders and Harvey Gallagher, who joined Marcus Bontempelli, Tom Liberatore and Adam Treloar in midfield.

The three-time All-Australian had 47 disposals and 17 clearances in the VFL on Sunday to make his case for a recall.

When asked if Macrae was ready to return, Weightman said: “Yeah, absolutely.

“I mean, Jack’s always ready and it’s a great problem for us to have as a club where a guy of his capability isn’t playing. We obviously want selection problems.

“It’s not just Jack – it’s guys like Riley Garcia, who posted 40 (disposals) and kicked two (goals) as well, who’s looking really impressive.

“It’s great Sanders and Gallagher are holding their spot and keeping these guys out – it’s a really good problem to have. 

“Injuries happen and stuff so when we do need to call on Jack, and that’s gonna happen, whether it’s this weekend or not, he’ll play senior footy for us.

“So having stocks is great and we know that he can come in and whoever it is comes in and we can trust them to get the job done, that’s gonna go a long way to us hopefully having a good year.”

Weightman, 23, wouldn’t be drawn on whether senior players had been put on notice.

“We’re a really good place with our list now where there’s younger guys pushing the older guys and you really do have to earn your spot,” he said.

“Great to have a selection squeeze at the club and I’m glad it’s Bevo’s headache, not mine.”

Naughton started his career as a defender but has played forward for most of his career.

There have been calls for the 24-year-old to swing back alongside Liam Jones and Buku Khamis.

“We’ll keep him up forward,” Weightman, who kicked six goals against Gold Coast, said.

“Naughty’s great to play with. Love coming together, blocking and helping each other out.

“He’s super-selfless, he’s in our leadership group and does a lot of the leading down forward for us and setting us up.

“So I don’t think we’ll see him down back and I think the boys Jonesy and Buks have really made that their own now.

“So I think we’ll be right to keep Naughts forward but no doubt that people will be asking him (to go) back.”