HomeBreaking NewsRobbo: Why Ugle-Hagan is footy’s most-curious question
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Robbo: Why Ugle-Hagan is footy’s most-curious question


It was before the Western Bulldogs took him with pick No.1, when the possibilities and probabilities were tantalising high.Stream every match of every round of the 2022 Toyota AFL Premiership Season Live & Ad-Break Free In-Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Try 14-Days Free Now >Eighteen months have passed since then and the only comparisons we can make is they are both AFL players and left-footers.It wasn’t Ugle-Hagan’s fault he was burdened with Franklin comparisons and, in future, the draft experts could perhaps temper their hyperbole about young talent.Ugle-Hagan played five games in his first season and Sydney’s Logan McDonald — another key forward take at pick No.4 — seven, but the focus on Ugle-Hagan outranked the Swan by at least 50-1.Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge was so frustrated at being asked questions about Ugle-Hagan last year, he asked journos to stop it.He’ll be asked again, of course, and it probably will occur Wednesday at his weekly press conference when the Bulldogs’ forward line is, once again, queried.Ugle-Hagan must be close, because he was the sub last week and even preparing for a round one contest like that, in the rooms and out on the ground, is further experience for the young man.Still, Beveridge chose Zaine Cordy to accompany Aaron Naughton as the second key forward, which was a surprise. Cordy played as a key forward in the Bulldogs’ premiership team in 2016 and last week played 88 per cent of game time forward, his highest percentage since round 17, 2018.Josh Schache, who had been the preferred partner of Naughton after Josh Bruce injured himself in round 21 last year, started round one on a wing.And recruit Tim O’Brien could be available this week, meaning Ugle-Hagan might be further down the pecking order.There is no more a curious question in football than what is happening with Ugle-Hagan?His first season was dotted with stories about a young man on the tear and a recent Instagram post from his account pledging $20 “off your order’’ at a local bottle shop is not criminal for a young man, but it is evidence that the brand is much bigger than footballer.The truth is, Ugle-Hagan can be any person he wants to be off the field because he will be largely judged for what he does on the field.There’s the curiosity: We don’t know what he can do.Schache, the No.2 pick in the 2015 draft, has been accused of lacking urgency and a voracious appetite to compete, yet he gets a game ahead of Ugle-Hagan.Young key forwards are notoriously late developers and Ugle-Hagan, who is 20 in April, has ample time ahead, which is exactly what was said of Schache early in his career at the Lions. Schache is now 24.Not every forward has to wait. Chris Grant, the head of football at the Bulldogs, kicked 51.31 in first season, 1990, as a 17-year-old. He was taken at pick No.105 in the 1988 draft.It goes without saying Beveridge knows best if a) Ugle-Hagan is ready to play and b) if Ugle-Hagan has earned the right to don jumper.AFL great Leigh Matthews said on 3AW at the weekend, however, that he understood if Ugle-Hagan wasn’t ready to play, but wondered if getting games into the kid now might benefit the Dogs later.Maybe the Dogs are unsure about the synergy between Naughton and Ugle-Hagan — about how fearless Naughton might maim Ugle-Hagan in the air — and, if that’s the case, surely synergy grows with matches played together?Maybe the kid isn’t good enough at this stage?Because, right now, Ugle-Hagan is behind Cordy, Schache, Mitch Hannan, maybe O’Brien and one of the resting ruckmen in the forward line if both Stef Martin and Tim English play.Beveridge might, on Wednesday, bristle at yet another interrogation about his No.1 draftee’s selection prospects, but that’s footy, isn’t it?And Ugle-Hagan, more than anyone, might be wondering when his next game will be.

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