Western Bulldogs star Bailey Smith has revealed he is heading to New York to train with Collingwood premiership hero Nick Daicos in a bid to recapture his old form as he seeks a lucrative new contract. Smith is looking to re-establish himself in the Bulldogs midfield after a disappointing 2023.
Smith says he is ready to "attack" whatever role coach Luke Beveridge assigns him in 2024 and is heading overseas to get some inspiration ahead of the new season. The midfielder has been rumoured to be on the move after this season but recently played down the speculation saying he is "very committed" to the Dogs.
'EXPLOITING THE RULES': AFL fans left fuming over an 'unfair' move
“Heading off to New York soon so it’ll be good to do a few training sessions over there with Nick Daicos,” Smith told 7NEWS. “That’ll be super fun. Just doing what I can do without overdoing it mate. Enjoying it.”
“I think something where we’ve got a lot of room to grow in AFL is appreciating great players as they come along,” Smith said. “I love watching his (Daicos) journey and then to be able to work together over this off-season will be amazing. Hopefully, I can have a year like his next year.”
“I just want to keep fuelling the fire there. I just want to go all the way, so the red, white and blue is the best place to do it.".
However, speculation continues to mount on Smith's future with multiple reports saying the AFL cult figure will leave the club. Bulldogs CEO Ameet Bains previously played down rumours that Smith could be sniffing around elsewhere, telling Caroline Wilson of Footy Classified that he is a "required player".
“There is huge frustration with him, he’s on a huge amount of money, he’s clearly a very high maintenance player, there’s several clubs looking at him, Collingwood and Hawthorn as well as Geelong," Wilson said. Smith, however, says a new deal is “not really at the forefront” of his mind and is instead focussing on having a strong offseason.
“There’s so much room left to grow and do in the imminent months now with pre-season,” Smith said. “Just itching for Round 1 to come around already, which is annoying because you’ve got to pace yourself. Just keen to smack out the next (few months).”
Bulldogs 'bait' fans with social media announcement
The Bulldogs cheekily used the high-profile player to make an announcement on social media. The post revealed the Dogs sponsorship with Mcdonald's had been extended another four years but used Smith's picture to do so, prompting many to initially believe it was the club announcing Smith had signed a new four-year deal.
Kicking goals together for 𝟒 𝐦𝐨𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐬 🍟 x 🐶 We’re excited to announce the extension of our partnership with McDonald’s until 2027.⁰⁰Details below 📝
— Western Bulldogs (@westernbulldogs) October 26, 2023
ngl I saw baz and “4 more years” and I jumped…
— z (@bazIenka) October 26, 2023
Crazy Bait got me good. But smith will be good 2025 for the pies
— Marcus (@AspectIWNL) October 26, 2023
The 22-year-old's contract will be up at the end of 2024 and the Herald Sun’s Jon Ralph says "the chances of him moving on seem to be about 80 per cent". Smith has been linked to Hawthorn, Geelong, Essendon and premiers Collingwood.
Ralph believes Smith's future at the Bulldogs will ultimately rely on him improving in 2024. "The onus is on Smith to work his butt off to improve his kicking and on-ball craft so (coach) Luke Beveridge simply has to give him more centre bounce opportunities," Ralph said. “Then he can either stay on a significant deal or explore the market at the end of 2024."
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