Wodonga won just one game in 2019 and a horror off-season has seen a huge number of experienced names depart the club. The Bulldogs will be a lot younger than previous seasons, but will it change their finishing position?
Hamish O'Brien (Tallangatta), Adam Jorgensen (Nathalia)
Josh Hicks (Kiewa-Sandy Creek), Nick Beattie (Kiewa-Sandy Creek), Chris Lewis (Kiewa-Sandy Creek), Jack Russell (Tallangatta), Bob Russell (Tallangatta), Khyle Goodman (Tallangatta), Damien Jones (Dederang-Mount Beauty), Tom Heagney-Steart (Caulfield), Mitch Dinneen (Yackandandah), Jackson Heagney-Steart (Benalla), Marshal Macauley (Coolamon), Shaun Flanigan (Wagga Tigers)
QUESTION AND ANSWER WITH OLLIE GREENHILL
Q: How's the feeling been at the club? Has it been hard to see so many quality teammates depart?
A: All the blokes that are there are there for the right reasons. It hurts seeing a bit of experience go out the door when we're such a young side, but the blokes we've got are having a crack. We're on the right road. We've lost a number of older players. We've still got a few, but there's more youth this year.
Q: No doubt people have been quick to write you off, what can you do to prove them wrong?
A: We played well in our practice matches and have a good idea of how we will line up. It would be nice if we could surprise a few people along the way.
Q: Were you happy with your own form last year?
A: I was pretty happy. I was a little bit inconsistent, but it wasn't too bad. I got to play pretty much all the season.
Q: Will your role change this season and will you take on a bit more responsibility?
I think everyone does. With the experienced blokes leaving, everyone sort of has to step up and do their bit.
Q: Your father, David, was a legend at Wodonga, is there a desire to follow in his footsteps and make your own mark at the club?
A: Definitely. I want to carry his name on and try have a bit of success of my own. He obviously won a premiership and I want to do the same thing.
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WHAT LIES AHEAD
WHERE IS WODONGA'S WIN GOING TO COME FROM?
It's tough to say at this stage and many punters believe there may not be one. Wodonga toppled Corowa-Rutherglen by 15 points midway through last season and it would be the Roos and possibly North Albury they would target as winnable fixtures.
COULD A WIN COME FROM COMPLACENCY FROM OTHER TEAMS?
Quite possibly. It sounds harsh to say but if an opposition side has a player or two that is underdone, they may choose to get a week of rest into them against Wodonga. That tactic could be fraught with danger and lead to some complacency, potentially opening the door for a youthful Wodonga to strike on their day.
HOW DO THEY GET OUT OF THE SLUMP?
Ideally a club would like to replace the names on the departure list with equal if not better talent. Wodonga was unable to land a really big name or a star assistant coach to lessen the load for Zac Fulford. Recruit Adam Jorgensen booted 55 goals for Murray league outfit Nathalia last year, so it should give Tom Johnson some help up forward, who led Wodonga's goal-kicking with 27 majors in 2019.
WILL THERE BE A SURPRISE FACTOR?
Most definitely. Clubs love doing their homework on opposition, but with so many forced changes for Bulldogs coach Zac Fulford in 2020, it may create a few different match-ups and provide an element of unpredictability.
WOULD THE SEASON BE A SUCCESS WITH ONE WIN?
As much as you want to win every game, Wodonga simply aren't in that position right now. Given the departures, a win would be a huge success for the Bulldogs, but they shouldn't and won't be settling for only one.
WHAT WE SAY
ANDREW MOIR: The worst thing you want in footy is pity and opponents now feel sorry for the 'Dogs.
BRETT KOHLHAGEN: If the season does get underway, I hope it's a wet one.
BRENT GODDE: It's hard not to see things turning from bad to ugly at the kennel this season.
BEAU GREENWAY: Matching the 2019 season with one win would be a big achievement given the host of departures at the kennel.
DAVID JOHNSTON: Staggering how far the Bulldogs have slipped off the radar. Even more pain in store in 2020.