Western Bulldogs youngster Jamarra Ugle-Hagan has officially put any trade rumours to bed, penning a two-year extension with the club.
The 19-year-old was the No. 1 pick in the 2020 national draft — the first for the Bulldogs since Adam Cooney in 2003 — but was yet to feature for the club until round 17 this season.
His lack of action led to uncertainty regarding his future with the Footscray outfit, but the new deal has quashed any talk of a future away from the club.
“It’s an unreal moment and I’m excited to re-sign for another two years,” Ugle-Hagan said.
“I’ve got time to develop as a player and person on and off the field, so it’s good to stay around at the Kennel. They gave me the opportunity to come here in the first place and I’d love to give back to the club.
“It still doesn’t feel real, I’m still getting used to the team around me. You watch these guys on TV and now you’re playing with them.
“It was a massive step up. With not playing a game, I had to get my game fitness up which obviously affected my start of the year.
“It’s a good thing that I played VFL, because I know I’ve got room to improve. Obviously Bevo (Luke Beveridge) knew what he was doing and put me in the twos for a while … I’ve developed, got better and now I’m playing which is good.”
Ugle-Hagan joined the Bulldogs as an academy product at age 15, and despite a shaky debut against the Sydney Swans, the key forward has gone strength to strength since.
A three-goal haul in his second game eased the nerves of the youngster, who now has six goals to his name after just four games.
The improvement was clear for all to see, and became a driving factor behind Bulldogs List Manager Sam Power drafting a new deal for Ugle-Hagan.
“We’ve been really pleased with Jamarra’s development over the course of the season,” Power said.
“He didn’t play any football last year and has worked extremely hard to build his fitness base, develop his game through the VFL and break into a strong AFL team.
“Jamarra has shown plenty of encouraging signs at AFL level. His athleticism, agility and marking ability have been on display, and he’s made the most of his opportunities in front of goal.
“We’re excited to have him locked in until the end of 2024 and look forward to watching him develop.”
The Bulldogs sit atop the AFL ladder on 60 competition points along with Geelong on an equal points tally.
Melbourne are breathing down their necks in third, only two points behind the leading pair. Port Adelaide remain fourth on 56 competition points.
Ugle-Hagan will look to celebrate his new deal with a win against Essendon on Sunday, as Luke Beveridge’s side round out the regular season with a mouth-watering clash against Port Adelaide.
A match with lowly Hawthorn is sandwiched in between, and the Bulldogs will be fighting tooth and nail for every win as they look to secure just their second flag in 67 years.