Tyler Curtis

SOUTH Mildura ruckman Tyler Curtis hopes the addition of some bigger bodies can help propel the Bulldogs towards a Sunraysia Football and Netball League (SFNL) finals berth in 2022.

The 28-year-old, widely regarded as one of the best big men in the competition, won the club’s 2021 best-and-fairest award, with midfield recruit Jackson McEwen runner-up.

It marks back-to-back awards for Curtis, who also won in 2019, with the 2020 campaign cancelled due to COVID-19.

Curtis admitted it took some time to readjust to playing on-ball after spending most of the previous season up forward.

“After that it went pretty well, although it was probably a bit too much ruck time, which we’re trying to fix if we can get another ruckman into the team to help split that role,” he said.

“Being around the ball was good though. Having Matthew Min come into the side allowed me to play further up the ground.”

Curtis believes young forward Kevin McDonald can take a further step forward next campaign, while another forward-ruckman could help straighten their spine.

“We are probably still waiting on Kevvy Mac to come on a little bit more. When he has a good game he kicks five or six but when it’s not his day he doesn’t get a lot of it,” he said.

“He’s only 20 years old but in our team he’s probably got the highest potential because of his athleticism and height. He’s going to be a very good player.

“We have to patient with those guys. I think he’ll come along nicely next year.

“We also had a heavy reliance on Mitch Undy to help out in the ruck.”

Curtis said Undy hadn’t played a lot of football.

“He’s come from a basketball background. So having him come and do ruckwork is a pretty big ask.

“He’s very good as a centre half-back type of player because of his fitness, he can run with a centre half-forward.

“So that extra player could push him back up there and give us extra backline coverage. It would help us really build that spine a bit more.”

Under coach Ben Dalton, Curtis said there was plenty to be excited about at the kennel in 2022, including a new home at the Mildura Sporting Precinct.

“Everyone is pretty excited. It’s a big oval,” he said.

“Even a few blokes who I’ve spoken to from previous years have said they’re going to come back, even run around in the twos to help build that depth.

“I’m not 100 per cent sure on any recruits as yet, but we’ve been able to retain most of our players, especially the younger guys who are a year older with another 12 games under their belt.

“We’ll be pushing for finals, especially you’ll be turning 29 like me, finals are definitely the aim.”

Story and photo courtesy of Sunraysia Daily

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