Five Bulldogs Stars in WAFL State Squad

Wednesday, May 1, 2019 - 9:01 AM by Chris Pike

SOUTH Fremantle's form early in the WAFL season has been rewarded with five players named in the 31-man squad that will be chosen from to represent Western Australia against South Australia in next Sunday's State match at Optus Stadium.

The State game for 2019 will be played on Sunday May 12 at Optus Stadium prior to the Fremantle-Richmond AFL contest and there looks likely to be heavy South Fremantle presence in the WAFL line-up.

Brock Higgins, Jacob Dragovich, Chad Pearson, Haiden Schloithe and Kade Stewart are the Bulldogs players to have been included in the initial 31-man squad that has been announced.

Higgins is dominating the ruck in the WAFL over the opening month of the season on the back of playing for WA in last year's win over the SANFL in Adelaide. 

Higgins is averaging 48.5 hit outs and 17.8 possessions over the first four games and has been named as ruckman in the Team of the Round on all four occasions already.

Schloithe, a dual fairest and best winner and the 2017 Sandover Medallist, has started the season well too for South Fremantle averaging 22.3 disposals and kicking seven goals over the opening month.

Then there are the three South Fremantle players who could potentially make their debut representing the WAFL against the SANFL.

Dragovich is one player to take a significant leap up so far this season following the loss of quality and experience at the Bulldogs. He has been a dominant presence in the midfield to date averaging 30.8 possessions a game.

Stewart has been strong on his return to the Bulldogs too both in the middle and at half-forward after two years in the AFL with Hawthorn and another back home in Katanning. He's averaging 23.0 touches a game and has kicked four goals.

Pearson has now cemented himself as a quality defender in the WAFL too. He is capable of doing well stopping his opponent in the air but also in collecting the ball and setting up play, evidenced by his averaging of 21.5 possessions over the opening four matches of the season.

The game will be played at Optus Stadium on Sunday May 12 as a curtain-raiser to the Fremantle v Richmond AFL game.

WAFL State Coach Michael Broadbridge, who led WA to historic wins over the SANFL in Adelaide last year and VFL in Melbourne in 2017, will be at the helm again joined by assistant coaches Ryan Cook, Brad Dodd, Steve Malaxos, Garry Moss and Ross McQueen.

WA’s win against South Australia last year was the first in Adelaide since 1994, while the 2017 win over the VFL was the first for a WA team on Victorian soil in 113 years.

Broadbridge said he was looking forward to the opportunity of extending WA’s successful record and had selected a strong squad based on the performance of players in the first four rounds of the WAFL season.

"We are very keen to extend WA’s unbeaten run in State Games to a seventh year and think we’ve got a really good group of talented players who have State, WAFL and AFL experience," he said.

"We will be keeping a close eye on games this weekend before finalising the squad and may still include players that grab our attention or we think can fulfil a specific role."

Broadbridge said the game would also be a great chance for players to experience playing at Optus Stadium and contribute to making the venue a fortress for WA football.

"Playing the game at Optus Stadium as an AFL curtain raiser is a great opportunity not only for the players, but the coaches and support staff involved with both teams that will get to experience the world-class facilities," he said.

"We also want to help Fremantle and West Coast maintain Optus Stadium as a fortress for WA football by being the first senior State team to win at the ground.

"Hopefully those players with AFL aspirations can also use it as an opportunity to showcase their talent, just like Tim Kelly did a couple of years ago."

WAFC executive manager WAFL and football operations Scott Baker congratulated all of the players selected in the squad and thanked Broadbridge and his assistant coaches for their contribution to the program.

"The WAFC is committed to giving players and officials the opportunity to represent the WAFL competition and Western Australia during these annual State Games," he said. 

"Thanks to the clubs, coaches, support staff and umpires that help make it possible, as well as the SANFL for continuing this great tradition. We are looking forward to hosting what promises to be an exciting, high-quality contest at Optus Stadium."

2019 KIA WAFL STATE SQUAD
Claremont – Jye Bolton, Anton Hamp, Kane Mitchell, Declan Mountford, Bailey Rogers
East Perth – Jackson Ramsay
Peel Thunder – Blair Bell, Jackson Merrett, Gerald Ugle
Perth – Brant Colledge, Corey Byrne
South Fremantle – Jacob Dragovich, Brock Higgins, Chad Pearson, Haiden Schloithe, Kade Stewart
Subiaco – Lachlan Delahunty, Josh Deluca, Kyal Horsley, Hayden Kennedy, Leigh Kitchin, Angus Litherland, Jordan Lockyer, Ben Sokol, Rhys Waters
Swan Districts – Corey Gault, George Hampson, Tony Notte
West Perth – Aaron Black, Shane Nelson, Andrew Strijk

WA Umpires
Field Umpires:
Ryan Shelton and Matt Adams
Emergency: Cam Jones
Boundary Umpires: Clayton Gardner and Bayley Lamont
Goal Umpire: Steve Gaensler
Goal Umpire 3rd Scorer: Jason Tyrell