Ask Caleb Daniel about his Western Bulldogs teammates and he’s quick to identify their best quality.
“We’ve got pretty much 22 players that’ll run through a brick wall if they have to,” he told AAP on Monday.
“They’ll put their head over the footy when they have to… they always do it and they’re always there.”
The Bulldogs’ mental and physical toughness has been plain to see in a remarkable run of finals wins culminating in a six-point preliminary final triumph over Greater Western Sydney at Spotless Stadium.
Now, the only thing standing between them and their first flag in 62 years is a date with Sydney in Saturday’s grand final at the MCG.
The Swans were at their imposing best in Friday night’s preliminary final demolition of Geelong, piling on seven unanswered goals in the first term.
“I only watched the first quarter and I think that was enough for me,” Daniel said.
“They were pretty brutal in the first quarter. I’m not too sure about the rest of the game but I know they got the win.
“They were hard at it, and I think that’s just finals footy. You’ve just got to be head to head.”
The smallest player in the league at 168cm, Daniel has shown remarkable poise for a player in just his second AFL season, as well as a hunger for the ball that runs through the Bulldogs midfield.
The 20-year-old shone brightly in the Bulldogs’ finals wins over West Coast and Hawthorn but admits he lacked his usual composure against the Giants.
“I was pretty fumbly with the footy,” he said.
“Like the rest of the 22 that played the game, we were able to build and play some really good footy in the last half.”
While the Dogs beat Sydney in their only previous meeting this year, the Swans have shown an ability to find another gear in big games.
But self-belief is at an all-time high at Whitten Oval and Daniel says the Dogs will relish the opportunity to perform on the game’s biggest stage.
“It’s three games that are do or die, I guess,” he said.
“You’re hard at it. Everyone’s there, and it’s brotherhood. It’s why you play football.”