WESTERN Bulldogs forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan has found support from inside a rival football club, with Sydney recruit Paddy McCartin helping him handle the immense pressure of the No.1 pick tag.

Not many current players truly understand the added burden that comes with not only being the first player taken in the NAB AFL Draft, but a key forward taken with that prized pick.

McCartin fits the bill. Before the 25-year-old reignited his career at the SCG, McCartin lived and breathed what Ugle-Hagan is going through now during his time at St Kilda, where he played 35 games amid eight different concussions, which eventually ended his time at the club.

St Kilda's Paddy McCartin leaves the field with a possible concussion during a JLT Community Series game against the Western Bulldogs on March 10, 2019. Picture: Getty Images

Ugle-Hagan has played 11 games since arriving at the Whitten Oval at the end of 2020 but is yet to grasp his chance in Luke Beveridge's side, despite the absence of star key forward Josh Bruce, who is edging closer to a return from a knee reconstruction.

The 20-year-old played the first six games of the season before being sent back to Footscray and has had every performance of his career to date forensically examined.

Speaking at the launch of Sir Doug Nicholls Round on Monday, Ugle-Hagan revealed McCartin reached out after they faced each other in round three and has been a sounding board for the young spearhead, building a connection through mutual friend Bruce, who has also been a constant source of support.

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“Paddy McCartin actually reached out to me after the Sydney game and he’s just looked after me, just little messages saying that he’s there for me and to message me if you ever need,” Ugle-Hagan told reporters on Monday.

“It's a challenging role to accept but it’s great to know that someone else on another football team understands my position and understands what we go through, which is massive pressure but we just feed off that and obviously it’s going to make us better footballers.

"He just said reach out and ask for help if I have any questions about how I'm going. After the Sydney game he messaged me, which was unbelievable because I found he was a great bloke on the field, gave me a couple of confidence messages when I was out there.”

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan flies over Paddy McCartin during the R3 clash between the Western Bulldogs and Sydney at Marvel Stadium on March 31, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Ugle-Hagan admits the weight of expectation is challenging to handle at times, but he is committed to improving his craft and proving to the doubters that he was a worthy No. 1 pick.

"It’s a massive challenge because it’s going to affect my game here and there because obviously they come at me knowing who I am and what I do, but I wear it as a pride thing. It will make me a better footballer," he said.

"It (the pressure) does get to you a bit here and there. But when I’m on the footy field I just forget. I try to just feed off it to improve my game.

"My nan always tells me, ‘You’re only 20’. But with the patience, that’s probably the hardest bit to accept that I’m not there yet. But I’m coming. It will come."

Ugle-Hagan has to be patient, even if football fans don't want to wait for him to develop.

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan celebrates a goal during round six, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

Riley Thilthorpe (pick No.2) and Logan McDonald (No.4) play the same position, were taken shortly after the young Dog and are both yet to set the world on fire this year. Thilthorpe has only managed one senior game in 2022, while McDonald has kicked four goals in six games – the same as Ugle-Hagan – and been dropped twice.

With Buku Khamis kicking three goals against Collingwood last Friday night, Ugle-Hagan might have to bide his time at Footsray for a bit longer, building form alongside last year's pick No. 2 Sam Darcy, who played his first game after overcoming a stress fracture in his foot.

"It was good to see him out here. He looks comfortable and its only up from here," he said.

"It was obviously a frustrating game in the VFL, but he played down at centre-half back a little bit, then he came down forward with me which was a lot easier, but it didn’t come down, which was hard."