The Western Bulldogs are being urged to pull out of their pursuit of Fremantle forward Rory Lobb after the emergence of son-of-a-gun swingman Sam Darcy.
Lobb has been widely tipped to join the Bulldogs — his third AFL club — in a move that could pave the way for Fremantle to chase Melbourne premiership ruck Luke Jackson.
But Essendon goal-kicking champion Matthew Lloyd says after the Bulldogs thrust Darcy forward for the first time at the weekend, they should “abort” any plans they had to chase Lobb.
The 205cm son of former Bulldogs captain Luke Darcy debuted against Fremantle earlier this month as a marking defender, but kicked two goals and took a series of big grabs inside 50 in a win over Hawthorn on Sunday.
“Do they still go after Lobb, or have they already committed to him?” Lloyd asked on Footy Classified.
“I look at the list they’ve got and I think Darcy is already and will be a better player than Rory Lobb next year, he’s the future.
“He’s a forward, I would (play him forward in the finals) … I would abort Lobb, unless you’re playing him as a ruckman, but you’ve got Tim English as well.”
The call comes as the two sides prepare to meet in an elimination final at Optus Stadium next Saturday night, Fremantle’s first finals appearance in seven years and a return for the Bulldogs to the venue where they lost last year’s grand final.
The Bulldogs have been a victim of their own shortage of talls down back this year with Ryan Gardner and Zaine Cordy asked to hold down the defence with Alex Keath falling out of favour.
Despite that, Kane Cornes says Luke Beveridge should persist with Darcy’s move forward given Fremantle look set to play just two of their injury-prone key forwards in the first final.
“He goes forward, I don’t think Josh Bruce will hold his spot … to go (Jamarra) Ugle-Hagan, (Aaron) Naughton and Darcy wouldn’t that be the most exciting forward-line in the competition in a final?
“I don’t think they need him back, because Fremantle aren’t blessed with talls with Taberner’s injury, Lobb’s the only one — he (Darcy) shapes as a big weapon for them.”
The Dogs are poised to secure Liam Jones, who sat out this season because of the league’s now-defunct vaccination mandate, which could allow Darcy to spend more time forward.
Bulldogs’ head of football Chris Grant said earlier this year the club had “reached out” to Lobb, who first flagged a move away from the Dockers at the end of last season.
“If Rory gets to a point in time where he expresses a desire to come Victoria way or near us, then we’d be very open to that discussion,” he said at the time.
Coach Justin Longmuir says Lobb is likely to face the Bulldogs next Saturday as he recovers from a shoulder setback, but declared they are unlikely to take three key forwards into the clash.
Lobb kicked four goals and had one of his best performances for the year when the two sides met at Marvel Stadium in Round 21.