Peel Thunder product Aaron Naughton has reaffirmed his stance as a big piece of the Western Bulldogs’ future after putting pen to paper on a two-year contract extension, keeping him at the Melbourne-based club until at least the end of 2020.
The defender’s signing continues the theme of first-round draft choices inking early contract extensions, with Fremantle’s Adam Cerra (the fifth overall pick) the only draftee left to sign on.
Naughton had been a shining light for the Bulldogs holding his own against some of the AFL’s top forwards through the first eight games of the season, but has since been sidelined by an ankle injury.
The ninth overall pick, Naughton was lauded for his aerial ability heading into the draft, and boasts an average of four marks through his first eight games to go with 11 disposals.
The Rockingham junior’s rebound off the back line had been a welcome addition to an otherwise struggling Bulldogs outfit.
Western Bulldogs general manager of list and recruiting Sam Power told the club’s website the extension was an exciting one at Whitten Oval.
“We had no hesitation in working on a contract extension for Aaron, and we’re excited to get it locked away at this point of his debut season,” he said.
“The way he has tackled the task of integrating into the club, working hard on the training track, winning a spot in the team and holding his own against some of the best forwards in the competition has been very impressive.
“We’re looking forward to seeing Aaron continue to improve as his career progresses at the Bulldogs.”
Naughton’s return to the Bulldogs’ line-up could come next week, with the 18-year-old needing to pass a fitness test.