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Dogs' Ugle-Hagan emulates idol Franklin

3 minute read

No.1 AFL draft pick Jamarra Ugle-Hagan is still pinching himself after kicking a match-winning goal even his idol Lance Franklin would be proud of.

JAMARRA UGLE-HAGAN. Picture: Morgan Hancock/Getty Images

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan admits his mind wandered to idol Lance Franklin as the emerging AFL star booted a memorable matchwinner for the Western Bulldogs.

The 2020 No.1 draft pick enjoyed a glorious breakout performance on Saturday night, spearheading the Bulldogs to a come-from-behind upset of reigning premiers Melbourne.

Ugle-Hagan had already kicked a career-high four goals as he gathered the ball near the boundary line at Marvel Stadium.

What happened next ensured he would receive the round 19 Rising Star nomination in a major step for his promising AFL career.

Even before he was drafted, Ugle-Hagan was compared to Hawthorn and Sydney Swans legend Franklin as another exciting Indigenous forward.

But the similarities of the 20-year-old's stunning matchwinner from 50 metres out on the boundary to some of Franklin's iconic goals were uncanny.

"In the moment I was just happy, surprised and shocked with how it went," Ugle-Hagan said on Tuesday.

"(It) just came off nicely on the boot and then I just turned around to the crowd and celebrated.

"It was kind of huge and when I actually got the ball I thought about that moment as well, about 'Buddy' (Franklin).

"I was training that kick as well, I always have set shots from the boys on the boundary line so it just came off nicely.

"I heard (Bulldogs defender) Bailey Williams tap it down and I was like I'm turning around and having a shot here."

There is always significant pressure on No.1 draft picks but Ugle-Hagan came into a club in premiership contention rather than a team in rebuild mode.

Ugle-Hagan did not make his AFL debut until round 17 last year and only now is he nailing down a spot in Luke Beveridge's best 22.

"I found it hard a bit last year to enjoy and find the fun in football because I was expecting too much of myself as a player," Ugle-Hagan said.

"It's just coming out naturally now which is just my growth and doing the little things right.

"I obviously walked in as the No.1 draft pick thinking I would just play straight away but I came into a top-two team last year.

"It was hard to realise at the time but looking back on it was (the best thing for me)."

The Bulldogs are back inside the top-eight with four rounds remaining as they prepare for a monster clash with ladder-leaders Geelong at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday night.

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