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‘Outrageously talented’ Ugle-Hagan will need time: Wallis

“It is probably going to be a little bit of a slower burn than most anticipate but he has certainly got the capacity to do it. It is just about getting a little bit bigger fitness base under his belt, then learning our system and how to impact games.”

Wallis said the competition for spots inside 50 would remain hot this season with Aaron Naughton, Josh Bruce, Josh Schache and Ugle-Hagan among the key options as well as ruck pair Tim English and recruit Stefan Martin.

He said his fitness levels are at an all-time high as he aimed to be more versatile so he could adapt to what the game demanded more easily.

Wallis said he was humbled to be elevated to vice-captain having had his resilience tested several times in his 151 game career. He missed out on playing in the 2016 premiership after he broke his leg late that season. He then contemplated a move to the Brisbane Lions as a free agent at the end of 2018 but remained. Then, midway through last year, he had his first child just 10 days before the family had to move into a hub on the Gold Coast.

The son of Stephen – who played 261 games with the Bulldogs – is rapt he has stuck to the task in the same colours throughout and the 28-year-old is looking forward to what lies ahead.

Bulldogs vice-captain Mitch Wallis, right, with skipper Marcus Bontempelli.

Bulldogs vice-captain Mitch Wallis, right, with skipper Marcus Bontempelli. Credit:Getty Images

“The footy gods played it the way they did and I am so glad I stayed at the club,” Wallis said.

Now he wants to help the Bulldogs improve on their performances in recent seasons after being bundled out of the finals in consecutive elimination finals. Having managed just one win in eight encounters with top eight teams in 2020 (they defeated West Coast) Wallis said the Bulldogs are aware they have work to do to be a contender.

“It’s just about the consistency and application across all areas of footy. We have a really good list and it is about preparing each week to play our best footy,” Wallis said.

“We have shown in the last couple of seasons that we haven’t played that well against top eight sides so a major area for growth is to bring that consistency against the sides that are top of the ladder.”

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