The odd-couple ruck pairing of Jordan Roughead and Tom Boyd have become the Western Bulldogs’ most irreplaceable AFL players.
The Bulldogs sit seventh on the ladder after an upset win over North Melbourne, having continued to show admirable depth in a luckless season.
Coach Luke Beveridge has been forced to make countless changes to his team this year, with captain Bob Murphy headlining a list of injured stars.
On every occasion, Beveridge has found someone capable of stepping up.
But the second-year coach conceded on Tuesday that would be very tricky if Roughead or Boyd were to suffer a setback.
“We haven’t got many talls left,” Beveridge said ahead of Friday night’s clash with Collingwood.
“We’ve got Kieran Collins who is out for the rest of the year. Marcus Adams is still yet to come back.
“Hopefully, we maintain our health from here on in … but that’s one area we’d want to have some luck.
“We can’t really afford to lose too many of our bigs at the moment … we need to continue to have an aerial contest in our forward line.”
Will Minson has played just one game this year, with Beveridge noting “form will dictate” whether the veteran earns a call-up in the final three rounds of the season.
Minson is a former All-Australian ruckman but doesn’t offer anywhere near as much versatility as Roughead and Boyd.
Beveridge was full of praise for the way key defender Roughead and crucial forward Boyd had adapted this year to their ruck responsibilities.
“We’ve been so enthused by what Roughy has done in the ruck,” he said.
“If he’d been our only ruck and pinch hitting elsewhere, I’m sure that his numbers would be comparable to some of the best rucks in the league.”
Boyd continues to attract all manner of scrutiny and criticism but Beveridge remains bullish about the former No.1 draft pick.
“You watch him jump at centre bounces … I think we’ve all got to remember that he’s not just a forward to us at the moment,” Beveridge said.
“He’s a ruckman as well.
“As far as productivity on the scoreboard goes, that’s not how we’re rating him. It’s the whole game.”
Beveridge is upbeat Clay Smith, knocked out in the last-start win over North, and Matt Suckling (achilles) will both be fit to face the Magpies.
Meanwhile, Beveridge confirmed veteran defender Dale Morris had signed a one-year contract extension.