THE WESTERN Bulldogs are eyeing a 77-year first as they chase premiership glory in 2021.

Should the Dogs salute this year, only the Fitzroy side of 1944 - that tasted success during World War II using 44 players across the season - will have used more individuals en route to a flag.

Luke Beveridge has rotated 41 players from his entire list of 43 to date in what would instantly become the second most for a flag side in the history of the AFL/VFL.

By comparison, the Dogs (2016) and three Richmond sides (1943, 1969, 2019) currently sit equal second with 39 players in a premiership campaign.

Beveridge has dug deep into his list this year which has included blooding six AFL debutants with key players including Adam Treloar, Josh Dunkley, Stefan Martin and Easton Wood missing large periods through injury.

>> HOW MANY PLAYERS HAVE YOU USED IN 2021? CHECK IT OUT BELOW

Only five Dogs – Jack Macrae, Marcus Bontempelli, Bailey Dale, Bailey Smith and Josh Bruce – have played all 19 games.

An injured Josh Dunkley and Adam Treloar after the round nine win over Port Adelaide at Adelaide Oval on May 15, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

The addition of the medical substitute has also allowed more players to be used with Louis Butler and Ben Cavarra each playing their sole game this year as the starting sub.

The only two players yet to feature at AFL level for the Dogs this season – draftee Dom Bedendo and rookie Will Hayes – were among Footscray's best as they extended their VFL unbeaten run to 10 on Saturday.

>> CHECK OUT THE VFL LADDER HERE

Other than the Dogs, the remaining top-four sides occupy three of the lowest five positions in the competition.

Collingwood, Fremantle and Greater Western Sydney each share second with 39 players. The Pies (nine) have used the most AFL debutants this year ahead of Hawthorn (eight).

Irish recruit Anton Tohill made his debut for Collingwood in round 19. Picture: AFL Photos

In each of his six previous seasons in charge, Beveridge has used 40, 39, 37, 38, 34 and 40 players per season respectively starting from 2015.  

Bontempelli was one of only four players alongside Shane Biggs, Lachie Hunter and Liam Picken to play all 26 games in the club's 2016 premiership year.

The Collingwood premiership sides of 1919 and 1929 both used just 26 players – the fewest in history.

Collingwood's famous 'Machine Team' during a team photo in 1929. Picture: Supplied

TOTAL PLAYERS USED AHEAD OF R21 IN 2021

Western Bulldogs – 41 players
Collingwood – 39
Fremantle – 39
Greater Western Sydney – 39
Hawthorn – 38
Richmond – 38
St Kilda – 38
Carlton – 37
Essendon – 37
Sydney – 37
West Coast – 37
Gold Coast – 36
North Melbourne – 36
Geelong – 35
Port Adelaide – 35
Adelaide – 34
Melbourne – 33
Brisbane – 32

AFL DEBUTS AHEAD OF R21 IN 2021

Collingwood – 9 players
Hawthorn – 8
Adelaide – 7
Essendon – 7
Greater Western Sydney – 6
Western Bulldogs – 6
Fremantle – 5
Port Adelaide – 5
Richmond – 5
St Kilda – 5
Geelong – 4
North Melbourne – 4
Brisbane – 3
Sydney – 3
West Coast – 3
Gold Coast – 2
Melbourne – 2
Carlton – 1

MOST PLAYERS USED IN PREMIERSHIP SEASONS

1944 – Fitzroy – 44 players
1943 – Richmond – 39
1969 – Richmond – 39
2016 – Western Bulldogs – 39
2019 – Richmond – 39
1974 – Richmond – 38
1977 – North Melbourne – 38
1998 – Adelaide Crows – 38
2017 – Richmond – 38
1970 – Carlton – 37
1981 – Carlton – 37
1992 – West Coast – 37

FEWEST PLAYERS USED IN PREMIERSHIP SEASONS

1919 – Collingwood – 26
1929 – Collingwood – 26
1904 – Fitzroy – 27
1905 – Fitzroy – 27
1917 – Collingwood – 27
1927 – Collingwood – 27
1956 – Melbourne – 27
1959 – Melbourne – 27

PLAYERS USED IN RECENT PREMIERSHIP SEASONS

2020 – Richmond – 33 players
2019 – Richmond – 39
2018 – West Coast – 33
2017 – Richmond – 38
2016 – Western Bulldogs – 39
2015 – Hawthorn – 33
2014 – Hawthorn – 35
2013 – Hawthorn – 34
2012 – Sydney – 31
2011 – Geelong – 35
2010 – Collingwood – 33
2009 – Geelong – 33
2008 – Hawthorn – 31
2007 – Geelong – 31
2006 – West Coast – 34
2005 – Sydney – 32
2004 – Port Adelaide – 32
2003 – Brisbane – 32
2002 – Brisbane – 30
2001 – Brisbane – 35
2000 – Essendon – 31