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Veteran Dog inks new deal, set for permanent return to defence

What Roughy won't miss, star Roo denies offer, Nic Nat ramps it up Mitch Cleary with all the latest footy news

WITH a fresh contract for 2020 and a return to his natural habitat, it's no surprise Western Bulldogs veteran Matt Suckling is excited with what's ahead.

The 31-year-old defender has signed a one-year contract extension to keep him at the Bulldogs until at least the end of next season.

Suckling has played 66 matches across four seasons at Whitten Oval, but 2019 has been the first season his role has changed.

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Following the emergence of Caleb Daniel as a half-back flanker, Suckling has spent most of his time as a forward this season.

However, with Daniel out indefinitely with a hamstring injury, Suckling returned to defence against Essendon and arguably had his best match of the season.

The crafty left-footer had 22 disposals at 96 per cent efficiency against the Bombers, which included four rebound 50s and eight score involvements.

"I always had optimism that I would be able to play on," Suckling said.

"I'm still feeling fresh and if the body holds up hopefully I can keep playing for as long as possible.

"It was nice to go back down there (defence), I probably played there for 10 years so always nice to go back."

"I probably do prefer it down there, I've made a career out of it and it's nice to be back down there but I'm ready to go forward if I'm required."

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Suckling said the club was buzzing after last week's mammoth 104-point win over Essendon and is loving being in the finals race.

"We're definitely playing some good footy since the bye," Suckling said.

"We're playing with freedom under Bevo (coach Luke Beveridge), that's something he instills in us and I think the boys are really relishing it at the moment."  

 

Suckling paid tribute to former Hawthorn teammate Jarryd Roughead, who announced his retirement on Monday.

"I sent him a text last night, saying congratulations and looking forward to having a quiet ale or two when our seasons are both done," Suckling said.

"He's been a remarkable player and he's one of those players, like Dale (Morris), who you love having around the club and love spending time with."

Suckling and Roughead spent six seasons at the Hawks together and played in the 2014 and 2015 premierships.