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Bulldogs young gun Ryley Sanders impressing throughout pre-season

Jackson Clark -

Norm Smith Medallist Jason Johannisen has tipped highly touted teenager Ryley Sanders to feature prominently at AFL-level for the Western Bulldogs this season.

Sanders arrived at the Bulldogs after being selected with pick six in last year's AFL Draft and has impressed with his performances on the training track throughout the pre-season.

"If his body holds up and he stays healthy, I'd assume he'd play a lot of games this year," Johannisen told RSN.

"He's been extremely exciting to watch, so Dogs fans will be really keen to watch him this season."

With Bulldogs midfielder Bailey Smith expected to miss the entire 2024 season due to a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, many have tipped Sanders as the player to fill the void.

Entering last year's draft, the young Tasmanian was regarded as one of the best midfield prospects available.

He had an outstanding 2023 season across multiple levels of football, including averaging over 30 disposals across his nine games for Sandringham Dragons in the Coates Talent League and claiming a second consecutive premiership.

Sanders averaged 39 disposals per game in the APS competition for Melbourne Grammar and also spearheaded the Allies to an undefeated carnival at the AFL U18 National Championships.

Ryley Sanders in action for the Allies during last year's AFL U18 National Championships. (Image: AFL Photos)

The 18-year-old was awarded the Larke Medal and was named captain of the U18 All-Australian team.

"There's been a lot of hype around Ryley Sanders, but it's very merited because the way he has been training is unbelievable," Johannisen said.

"Personally, he sort of reminds me of a young 'Libba' (Tom Liberatore). He's so clean in the stoppages, but then he also has the time and poise of (Scott) Pendlebury."

Upon being drafted, Sanders told Fox Footy he was excited to land at the Bulldogs.

"I'm just so stoked to be there and they have so many good players that I'll be able to learn off, which is great."

Sanders is a high-production midfielder who possesses clean hands and classy decision making.

AFL Draft guru Kevin Sheehan told Fox Footy that the Bulldogs had drafted a tremendously talented player.

"He's just a polished player who prepares so well and produces from week to week."

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