Jamarra Ugle-Hagan has received support from Sydney defender and fellow former No.1 draft pick Paddy McCartin as he navigates the pressure that comes with the title.
The Western Bulldogs forward was the top selection in 2020 but has played just 11 games, and was dropped after featuring in the first six rounds this season.
McCartin was St Kilda's No.1 pick back in 2014 but amid multiple concussions played just 43 games before being delisted five years later.
Now a key defender at Sydney, where he earned a reprieve as a pre-season supplementary selection, McCartin connected with Ugle-Hagan after facing the 20-year-old in round three.
"Paddy McCartin actually reached out to me after the Sydney game and he's just looked after me, just little messages saying that he's there for me and 'message me if you ever need'," Ugle-Hagan told reporters on Monday.
"Because it's (the No.1 pick) a challenging role to accept but it's great to know that someone else on the other football team understands my position and understands what we go through, which is massive.
"It puts pressure but we just feed off that and obviously it's going to make us better footballers.
"After the Sydney game he messaged me, which was unbelievable because I found he was a great bloke on the field - just so nice, always gave me a couple of confidence messages when I was out there."
The connection came through McCartin's former Saints teammate and now-Bulldog Josh Bruce, who Ugle-Hagan considers an older brother at Whitten Oval.
Ugle-Hagan said he tried to wear the No.1 tag with pride but admitted the pressure could be testing.
"It's a massive challenge as well because it's going to affect my game here and there because obviously they come at me knowing who I am and what I do.
"It (the pressure) does get to you a bit here and there.
"But when I'm on the footy field I just forget. I try to just feed off it to improve my game."
Ugle-Hagan is focused on consistently competing and using his strength on the ground in order to get back into the Bulldogs' AFL ranks.
"My nan always tells me, 'You're only 20' ... but with the patience as well, that's probably the hardest bit, to accept that I'm not there yet. But I'm coming," he said.
"Especially when Indigenous Round comes around, I want to be out there 100 per cent, running around with my mates and my brothers.
"It is hard to be patient but my time will come."
Australian Associated Press
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