Western Bulldogs AFL star Bailey Smith returns to training with bumper contract extension imminent
Despite being banned for drug use, Bulldogs star Bailey Smith will sign a blockbuster contract extension after returning to training on Wednesday morning.
Smith is serving an AFL two-match after pictures and video surfaced last week of him snorting a white powder – and the star midfielder then admitted to illegal drug use in an interview with the league.
The AFL also gave Smith a “strike” under the league’s illegal drug policy.
He had already served a two-game suspension for headbutting Geelong defender Zach Tuohy in a hateful duel in Round 12.
Bailey Smith returns to training for the Western Bulldogs after the ‘white powder’ scandal
Smith, pictured on Wednesday morning, is currently serving a suspension for the incident
Neither incident looks set to hurt his chances of a major extension as Smith is out of contract at the end of the season.
Bulldogs chief executive Ameet Bains said the club had “promising” talks with Smith’s manager, Paul Connors.
“We don’t think it should have too much of an impact,” he told 3AW’s Sportsday about the midfielder’s drug ban.
“We had made quite some progress in the last two to three weeks with his manager, Paul Connors, so hopefully that momentum can continue.”
Bailey Smith was filmed snorting a white powder at the end of the 2021 season
Bains also wanted to point out that the white powder incident was not a recent occurrence, and he was confident Smith had learned from the experience and would grow.
“Most importantly… the incident was from last year. While the club was not aware of the existence of a vision until it came to our attention last weekend, the period Bailey was dealing with late last year leading to the poor decision making was something we knew about and dealt with. . at the time,” he said.
“To his credit, he’s done a lot of things over the last six to eight months to deal with that, and his performance on the pitch has reflected that.”
Smith looked as fit as ever on the training track with his Bulldogs teammates on Wednesday morning, and he hopes to return to his sparkling 2022 form when the Bulldogs take on St Kilda on July 15.
Bailey Smith catches the ball during a training session for the Western Bulldogs on Wednesday
Before his suspension, Smith produced elite numbers in midfield, averaging 31.6 disposals and 7.6 scores per game, despite the Bulldogs’ inconsistent performance, which placed them in 10th place on the ladder.
A number of star Bulldogs have already signed massive contract extensions this season, including Tim English, Jack Macrae and Caleb Daniel – so securing the 21-year-old Smith’s signature would be a huge coup for the great 2021 finalists.
Bailey Smith pictured with a bag of white powder after the Bulldogs’ grand final loss
The incident for which Smith was suspended came after the disappointing big loss of the final, and Bains said the club was “aware that this kind of behavior exists” after the season.
“I think we would be naive to think that given the societal problems 18-25 year old men and women face and what they do socially, our player cohort wouldn’t get caught up in that, especially in their spare time. season,” he said.
“But it’s very difficult to be precise about the numbers.”
Smith has been in excellent form for the Bulldogs in 2022
Smith admitted he struggled after losing a whopping 74 points to Melbourne in the 2021 grand final.
“I have no excuse for that behavior, but my mental health during that period after the Grand Final deteriorated dramatically, and I got out of control, leading to poor decision-making and actions at the time,” he said in a statement. . official club statement.
Bailey Smith is a brand ambassador for iconic fashion company Cotton On
The Bulldogs weren’t the only organization standing strong behind Bailey Smith after the incident, and sponsor Cotton On also indicated they were keen to support the young star.
“Cotton On will continue to support brand ambassador Bailey Smith during this difficult time. While we do not condone his recent behavior, we will stand behind him,” a company spokeswoman said.