STRONG competition for spots will ward off the threat of complacency as the Western Bulldogs strive to win back-to-back premierships, according to star playmaker Luke Dahlhaus.
The reigning premiers had only two senior-listed players who didn't register a senior game in 2016. This year they will be strengthened by the return of Robert Murphy and Mitch Wallis from injury, while the availability of Stewart Crameri after suspension, and the arrival of Travis Cloke, should help a forward line that has struggled with efficiency.
As the Dogs face Melbourne in the JLT Community Series at Whitten Oval on Saturday, Dahlhaus feels a predominately fit and healthy list has the club well placed to repeat the heroics of last season.
"(Competition for spots) keeps you on your toes, because when you're playing in the seniors you never feel safe," Dahlhaus told AFL.com.au.
"It makes you work harder on the track and be more professional because you've got someone knocking on the door ready to take your spot.
"It's why we won both the AFL and VFL flags last year."
The 24-year-old points to a host of teammates who are capable of playing consistent senior football if the opportunity arises, with third-year midfielder Lukas Webb heading that list.
Fringe ball winners Lin Jong, Bailey Dale, Bailey Williams, and key defenders Marcus Adams and Kieran Collins, also have strong cases to be part of Luke Beveridge's best 22.
"There are so many good young players at the club, but Lukas Webb has had a massive pre-season and is going really well," Dahlhaus said.
"Josh Dunkley is another one, and (draftee ruckman) Timmy English looks like he's going to be a very good player.
"Tim just seems so comfortable around the boys, and he just moves like a midfielder for a bloke two metres tall.
"He reminds me of Marcus Bontempelli because of his maturity at such a young age."
While the Dogs possessed one of the stingiest defences in the competition last year, Dahlhaus was part of a forward line that lacked firepower at times, but he's genuinely excited by the attacking arsenal they have assembled for 2017.
Key forward Tom Boyd's coming of age in last year's finals bodes well for a strong partnership with Cloke, with the two-time All Australian out to prove he still has plenty to offer at the highest level after a disappointing end to his time at Collingwood.
And then there's mid-sized Crameri, whose elite endurance adds another dimension to a forward line that looks dangerous and unpredictable.
"It's scary to think if we had 'Stewy' in the team last year, because he'll help blokes like Tommy, Travis and big Jack Redpath when he comes back (from injury)," Dahlhaus said.
"It's a pretty tall and dangerous forward line with a lot of goal sense."