IT might be in a different role than he imagined upon arrival at South Fremantle, but Sean Tighe is carrying the ruck for the Bulldogs and looks set to become a key part of their resurgence going forward.
With an incredible and growing list of star experienced players who have either left South Fremantle or are out injured, the Bulldogs team seems to be getting younger and younger each week, but two straight wins have without question shown there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
One shining light has been the development of Tighe as the season has gone on since arriving from Werribee in the VFL.
The 21-year-old 200cm big man originally came over expecting to hold down a key forward post alongside the likes of Ben Saunders and Paul Mugambwa, but necessity has seen him have to play in the ruck.
Damian Hayward emerged as a promising young ruckman late season but went down early on leaving Tighe as the most likely man to carry the ruck.
Now nearing the end of 2012 he looks every possibility to do so going forward with as much success as Jaymie Graham and Adam Hay did in the 2009 and 2005 premierships respectively.
Tighe's form has continued to get better as the season has gone on culminating in a best on ground display in last Sunday's win over Perth at Fremantle Oval where he had 24 possessions, 26 hit outs, eight inside 50s and a goal.
"This week again I played on another big brute (Perth's Rob de Jongh), but I got over him a few times and then made a point of making sure I got clearances and worked him over around the ground. I think I did that and was pretty happy with my game," Tighe said.
"I definitely came over here to play full-forward or centre half-forward, and me and Saunders were looked at as being the main forward targets but through necessity I suppose I've had to play ruck. As long as I get a game each week, though, I can't really complain and our forward-line is pretty settled now.
"Big Saunders is down there now kicking plenty of goals and McCarrey has done well this year, and I'm loving the ruck now. The big grounds are great because I'm from the VFL where the grounds are small and you don't really get the chance to run around and pick up the possessions like you do in the WAFL."
The culture of Fremantle derbies is something new to Tighe, but already having tasted games against the old foe twice he is well aware how much it means to both clubs and he's looking forward to getting back to East Fremantle Oval this Saturday to try and upset the Sharks' finals prospects.
"We've got a few old East Freo blokes here as well and I had heard about what the derbies were like at the start of the year and how unreal they are, but it didn’t really sink in. We played them earlier at their ground and it was a pretty average day, and was a good crowd but not as big as I thought," he said.
"Then I came here on the Foundation Day Monday and my mind was blown by it. I had a few mates over and they couldn’t believe the people and coming over you don't really realise the rich history of derbies. They did embarrass us in that first game this year and then pipped us on Foundation Day, so we are looking to rectify that and help to shape the finals anyway that we can."
With Scott Delmenico, Graham, Callum Wilson, Cory Amato, Chris Bossong, Cory Dell'Olio, Jarrod Parry, Paul Hasleby, Anthony Collica, Morgan Cooper, Josh Head, Murphy, Hayden North, Nathan Phillips, Gerard Wilkie, Craig White, Theo Adams, Reece Adams and Toby Bairstow among those injured, to have retired or left South Fremantle over the last 12 months there's no surprise 2012 has been a rebuilding year.
The signs are certainly exciting though. There was a tough stretch mid-season with eight straight losses, but wins over Subiaco and Perth the last two weeks have been good and Tighe has been impressed with all the work put in by everyone at South Fremantle to get the club back up and going.
"It was a real tough time there, but it probably sort of made us as a group as well. We lost some champions of the club and I think our training got as hard as it had been all year as well. Hase is trying to instil that the club is changing, but for the better," Tighe said.
"It is tough when you lose eight in-a-row and then have a bye in between so you haven't won for a long time, but it was great to get that win against Subiaco and now again this week we played even better. When you get desperate to win, it's amazing what can happen.
"We just need a few things to go our way and to work as a group, and the last few weeks have been better as a result. We've done some leadership work with Peter Worsfold as well and he has instilled in us that you can't accept losing. Even though we lost three games ago by a couple of goals, as long as we don’t accept defeat then we are heading in the right direction."
South Fremantle was just one of a host of WAFL clubs looking to secure the services of Tighe when he indicated his interest in moving west.
Not only has he instantly enjoyed playing in the WAFL, but has been blown away by the tradition and culture of South Fremantle leaving him not only in no doubt that he made the right choice of club, but that he wants to remain a Bulldog for years to come.
"It was a pretty good opportunity for me. The VFL is a really good comp, but you tend to fall through the cracks because it is such an AFL-based comp. I looked at a few different clubs here and to see the passion from the people, and how much they love WAFL was heart warming," Tighe said.
"Coming from Melbourne I hadn’t really seen that and it's fantastic. The club is full of history and there's always past players coming to see you after a game and there is so many lockers here with 100-plus game players on it. It's just a club like I have never been at before with the culture it has.
"Even though we've had a down year, it's mind blowing with the amount of people who get around the players. I love WAFL football so far and I've got a pretty good set up here with work and everything, so I can't really see myself leaving anytime soon."