Luke Beveridge has no idea who the best ruckman at the Western Bulldogs is and he’s going to use the NAB Challenge to find out.
The second-season coach said the race for ruck supremacy at Whitten Oval was wide open and he’d be watching try-outs in the month before the season begins.
“Our potential candidates will play through the NAB series and whoever plays the best will grab the one or two or three spots for that first game against Fremantle,” he said.
“It’s between Will (Minson), it’s between Jordan (Roughead), it’s between Tommy Campbell, it’s between Tommy Boyd, we’ve got Jack Redpath who we know pinch-hit there last year.
“It’s probably between those five guys whether or not they’ll share the load.”
On Thursday, the Dogs begin their pre-season against the GWS Giants in Canberra – knowing that whoever gets the nod for round one will face Fremantle without the suspended Aaron Sandilands.
Minson, Campbell and Roughead have been named in a strong side featuring 16 players that were involved in the elimination final defeat to Adelaide.
The biggest names missing were both Toms; Liberatore and Boyd.
The son of club great Tony Liberatore won the Bulldogs’ 2014 best and fairest award but missed last season with an ACL injury suffered in pre-season.
Beveridge said Boyd, 20, and Liberatore, 23, would be held back a week to play Melbourne on March 6.
“We got through all pre-season pretty much unscathed but in the last two weeks Tom, the two Toms actually, Liberatore and Boyd, have copped a knock or two,” he said.
“They’ll almost definitely be right for the second one.”
At StarTrack Oval, Bulldogs fans will get their first sight of former Hawk Matt Suckling in club colours, but Beveridge wasn’t saying where on the ground he would line up.
Beveridge, who worked with Suckling during his time as Hawthorn assistant, said he delighted in the 27-year-old’s versatility and would swap between half-back, half-forward and through the middle.
“Matty’s one of a handful of players at our club that can potentially play anywhere on the ground,” he said.
“We’ll move him round a bit. Week to week, he’ll bed down in an area based on the make up-of our side.”
The Bulldogs will field a less experienced side in week two of the NAB Challenge and ramp up preparations with a close to full-strength side to complete their pre-season against Collingwood on March 12.