A Fremantle AFL player puts his left hand in the face of a Melbourne opponent.

Bulldogs star to miss 2024 AFL season after suffering ACL injury in training

Western Bulldogs star Bailey Smith is set to miss the entire 2024 AFL season after sustaining a serious knee injury at training.

Key points:

Scans confirmed Bailey Smith had injured his ACL after an incident at training on Wednesday
Smith is out of contract after 2024 with much speculation surrounding his future
Fremantle ruck Sean Darcy penned a fresh six-year contract with the Dockers, warding off interest from rival clubs

The 23-year-old midfielder was hurt midway through a training session on Wednesday, with scans confirming damage to an anterior cruciate ligament.

“We’re all extremely disappointed for Bailey and empathise with him greatly,” Bulldogs football director Chris Grant said.

“The entire club will rally around him during this difficult time as he begins his rehab journey.”

Smith is out of contract at the end of 2024 and has been the subject of speculation about a move away from the Bulldogs.

Hawthorn and Geelong have been most strongly linked to the midfielder, who endured a tough run of form midway through 2023.

It sparked fierce external criticism and a strong defence from Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge.

Bailey Smith has become one of the most marketable players in the AFL.(Getty Images: Daniel Pockett)

Smith had struggled to break into a star-studded midfield boasting prolific ball-winners Marcus Bontempelli, Tom Liberatore, Adam Treloar and Jack Macrae.

Smith recently linked up with Collingwood star Nick Daicos in the United States and is one of the most marketable figures in the AFL, boasting an Instagram following of more than 340,000.

He has a strong connection to younger fans, having previously spoken about his mental health battles in the spotlight.

Darcy commits long-term to Freo

Meanwhile in WA, Fremantle have fought off strong interest in Sean Darcy from rival AFL clubs, signing the ruck star to a six-year contract extension.

Victorian product Darcy had been in the sights of clubs in his home state, most notably Geelong, and would have been a free agent at the end of next year.

But the 25-year-old has committed his long-term future to the Dockers with a deal that runs through until the end of 2030.

A Fremantle AFL player puts his left hand in the face of a Melbourne opponent.

Sean Darcy (left) has signed a new six-year contract with Fremantle.(Getty Images: Darrian Traynor)

Fremantle missed the finals last season — a poor result considering their semi-final appearance a year earlier — but Darcy is excited by the club’s future.

“We just need to get stuck into it and I can’t wait for the season to start,” he said.

“I’ve got full belief in our team, our list and what we’re building and everything going forward.

“We had a bit of a disappointing year last season and we’re not shying away from it.

“Everyone is on board that we need to be better, we need to improve and we need to improve quickly.

“We’re trying to get the best out of each other and we’re working hard every day to push each other, so it’s really exciting.”




Author: Russell White