Wodonga has moved to fix its Achilles’ heel with boom forward Tom Johnson returning.
The Bulldogs struggled to score last season, averaging only 59 points per game.
The team finished seventh, with six wins, but trailed fifth-placed Lavington by almost five goals per game.
“We identified that we need to score a little more heavily,” coach Zac Fulford said.
“Our midfield group did a really good job and our defence group was exceptional.
We identified that we need to score a little more heavily. Our midfield group did a really good job.Zac Fulford
“To get Tom back and support Nick Beattie is a real positive for us, Nick did a really good job, but our forward line needed attention.”
Beattie was one of the league’s surprise packets last season, finishing fifth in goalkicking with 36.
Johnson represented the O and M in 2017, but suffered a horror dislocated left ankle and broken leg shortly after the representative win over Goulburn Valley.
He cited the injury as a major reason for leaving the higher standard to join Tallangatta last season.
Johnson joined his great mate in coach Sam Livingstone, but there’s speculation he and the Hoppers have parted company.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs have also picked up Tallangatta’s best and fairest Bob Russell, who’s likewise returning to his former club.
“He’ll certainly add some strength to our midfield,” Fulford said.
Johnson finished third in the Hoppers’ top award.
This off-season is a world away from the Bulldogs’ last, with just one confirmed departure in veteran Brett Doswell to Thurgoona.
Last year, the club lost more than 20.
“The numbers at the first five or six sessions have been 40-plus,” Fulford said.
“The pre-Christmas period last year was challenging without doubt, but we feel we’ve come out the other side.”
Fulford said he doesn’t necessarily expect to sign any more players as the Bulldogs look to play finals for the first time since 2010.
- Receive our daily newsletter straight to your inbox each morning from The Border Mail. Sign up here