Six more key Bulldogs sign on for 2018

Friday, November 17, 2017 - 11:34 AM by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle's push to remain a WAFL force in 2018 and to attempt to improve on back-to-back preliminary final appearances has continued with the announcement of six more key players re-signing, including five former AFL-listed talents.

Last week the Bulldogs announced that past fairest and best winners Ashton Hams and Shane Hockey along with Marlion Pickett, Blayne Wilson, Steven Edwards and Jacob Dragovich had signed on again to continue with the Bulldogs for the 2018 WAFL season.

The good news has continued following the announcement of a further six players having recommitted to the club.

Key forward Mason Shaw, prolific midfielder Dylan Main, leading goalkicker Blaine Johnson, the versatile Tom Vandeleur, the tough and courageous Steve Verrier, and hard-running, ball-winning wingman Brendan Verrier will all once again be playing with South Fremantle in the 2018 WAFL season.

The announcement of the 12 players re-signing coincides with the announcement that senior coach Todd Curley has also agreed to terms to a contract extension keeping him at the helm at South Fremantle until at least the end of 2019.

At this stage, the only regular league player from 2017 to depart the club is retired key position player Josh Pullman. However, there remains a strong possibility that Tim Kelly, Haiden Schloithe and Matthew Parker will end up in the AFL system in 2018.

The six players to have now recommitted will all play a significant part in South Fremantle's push in 2018 to continue the momentum from the past two seasons and to further improve.

By re-signing, Shaw will remain an important part of South Fremantle's potent forward-line. Since returning to the Bulldogs following three years with Port Adelaide in the AFL, Shaw has kicked 95 goals in 46 games for South Fremantle.

His contested marking and ability to contest in the air has been a crucial part of a star-studded Bulldogs forward set up that also includes Johnson, Ben Saunders, Cory Dell'Olio and Parker among others.

Soon to turn 24 years of age and having got through two full seasons without injury interruption, there's every chance the key forward could improve further in 2018.

Main is another who has now spent two seasons back at South Fremantle following two years listed with the West Coast Eagles. 

Following a stint in the reserves through the mid-point of 2016, Main returned to South Fremantle's league side and began to play as an inside midfielder and has never looked back since.

He had a blistering finish to the 2016 season averaging 23.6 possessions once he came back into the league. He continued that form right throughout 2017 averaging 21.5 disposals and finishing third in fairest and best voting behind Schloithe and Kelly.

Johnson, too, has just finished his second season back with South Fremantle following two years and seven AFL matches with Carlton. After kicking 39 goals in a solid 2016 campaign, he went to another level in 2017.

He finished up leading South Fremantle's goalkickers booting 59 majors for the season highlighted by nine against Perth in Round 14. Johnson also kicked six goals in Round 4 against West Perth along three more five-goal performances.

He is now back again in 2018 and the dangerous forward who is good on the lead, can win one-on-one battles, kick goals from nowhere and perhaps most importantly tackle and chase inspirationally will look to continue right from where he left off this year.

Vandeleur is yet another Bulldogs player who has now been back at the club for two years following his time in the AFL. He spent two years at Fremantle but was back to South Fremantle in 2016.

He went on to play just five league games that year and then had to bide his time in the reserves in 2017 before earning his opportunity.

But once he did break in, he made the most of it and played an important role in the forward-line often tasked with the job of shutting down the opposition's most dangerous rebound defender.

He did that well also kicking important goals and will now look to further cement his spot at the Bulldogs in 2018.

Steve Verrier had an injury-interrupted 2017 after breaking his hand in a courageous performance in Round 1 against Subiaco. But once he returned he proved himself South Fremantle's most physical and versatile player.

Whether it was playing a role in the midfield, off half-back or wherever else on the field he was asked, he always did his job and made his mark. An injury-free season in 2018 and he could very well become one of the leading players in the competition with his strong all-round ability.

His younger brother Brendan Verrier will be back with him at the Bulldogs again in 2018 as well. When in the league side again in 2017, he proved himself a big ball-winner averaging 23.6 disposals a game.

He had a high of 36 in Round 14 against Perth as well. He has proven himself capable of running all day and racking up big numbers, now it's just a matter of finding that consistency at league level and he will be a crucial part of South Fremantle's push in 2018.