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Sanders stars in the Bulldogs' match simulation win

Jackson Clark -

Western Bulldogs young gun Ryley Sanders has staked his claim for a Round 1 debut after a scintillating performance in Friday's match simulation.

The talented young Indigenous on-baller was everywhere during the Bulldogs' 25-point win over Hawthorn at the Whitten Oval.

Sanders made an immediate impact, collecting the first centre clearance of the game and collecting ten disposals plus a goal within the opening term.

He finished the game with 25 disposals, the second highest out of all the Bulldogs players behind Tom Liberatore.

Sanders was taken with the Bulldogs first selection – pick six overall – in last year's AFL National Draft.

Assistant coach Brendan Lade took the reins yesterday with senior coach Luke Beveridge watching at home due to sickness.

Lade held high praise for Sanders and stated that there will be no problem with the young midfielder handling the hype around him.

"He's a pretty level-headed kid who takes everything in his stride," Lade said.

"The good thing about Ryley is that he works really hard on his game and if he continues to do that, the results will come.

"At the moment, he is playing really well … It's great to have him in the midfield, he definitely showed some really impressive signs today."

Ryley Sanders has been a standout at Western Bulldogs' pre-season training. (Image: AFL)

Sanders was one of the most talented prospects available in last year's draft having dominated junior footy throughout the 2023 season.

He averaged over 30 disposals per game for the Sandringham Dragons in the Coates Talent League and 39 disposals per game for Melbourne Grammar in the APS competition.

At representative level, he spearheaded the Allies to an undefeated carnival at the AFL U18 National Championships, claimed the Larke Medal as the player of the championships, and was named the captain of the U18 All-Australian team.

The young Tasmanian has been a standout at the Bulldogs' pre-season training throughout the summer.

Speaking to AFL.com.au while on a training camp, Sanders – who has constantly been praised for his attitude and professionalism – emphasised the importance of making a strong first impression.

"I think it is really important to make an impact in your first months at the club because that first impression lasts a long time on your teammates," Sanders said.

"I've been trying to come across as a good teammate and a good person."

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