It’s been another long, disrupted and entertaining season – but we’ve finally reached the end.
The Western Bulldogs have decided the time is right for prized No.1 draft pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan to finally make his AFL debut.
The prodigiously-talented key forward has been unable to force his way into the senior line-up this year with the Bulldogs sitting atop the ladder.
But an injury to gun key forward Aaron Naughton has created an opening and Ugle-Hagan will play in Sunday’s clash with Sydney at Marvel Stadium.
The 19-year-old has kicked 13 goals in seven games for Footscray in the VFL this year.
An academy prospect at the Bulldogs, Ugle-Hagan became the top pick in last year’s draft after the club matched Adelaide’s bid for him.
Ugle-Hagan was the first Indigenous No.1 draft pick since Des Headland in 1998.
Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has constantly fielded questions about Ugle-Hagan and when the club’s young gun will play.
Beveridge has been eager to protect Ugle-Hagan, who has been compared to Swans superstar Lance Franklin, from added scrutiny.
“That’s my drive to protect our players and Jamarra, as a young Indigenous man who’s been involved with our club for a while now,” Beveridge said in May.
“I obviously got a little bit testy after the game because it is an ongoing commentary and I suppose I’m sensitive to continuing to talk about Marra.”
Ugle-Hagan grew up idolising Franklin and will now get to play on the same field as the legendary forward, who is only 24 goals away from the magical 1000 mark.
He will be the Bulldogs’ sixth debutant this year, joining Anthony Scott, Lachie McNeil, Jordon Sweet, Buku Khamis and Riley Garcia.
The young forward has already been rumoured to be considering a move elsewhere after being made to wait for his first game.