Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge admits there’s a palpable sense of excitement at Whitten Oval as the Dogs continue to gather momentum at the business end of the season.
Sitting in sixth spot with 10 wins and six AFL games to go, the Bulldogs are destined to play finals in Beveridge’s first season in charge if they can maintain their recent form.
The coach acknowledges the prospect of September action looms larger around his club with each win.
While he’s not trying to put a lid on it, he leaves no doubt that his focus remains on the short term, starting with Sunday’s clash against Essendon.
“There’s definitely a real energy and there probably is excitement,” Beveridge said on Saturday.
“The boys are really buoyed by what they’ve been doing … and they just want to grow that. This week presents another challenge to just get better at what we’re doing.
“It would be a shame for us not to capitalise on how far we’ve come this year and not really press in the back end of the year. Then what success means at the end of the year, who knows? “That ‘open book’ type of mentality is what we continue on with. It’s an exciting journey at the moment.”
Beveridge named an unchanged line-up for the first time this season ahead of the clash, with the coach keen to reward the same 22 that ground out an impressive win against Collingwood.
High-priced recruit Tom Boyd will play another game in the VFL, but Beveridge said that he was close to breaking back into the AFL side and will come in for strong consideration next week.
“As the weeks and years go on he will become the Colossus that our football club believes he will be,” Beveridge said.
“But we’re still over the moon with what he’s done and what he’s doing.”
The Bombers made four changes to the side that suffered a 13-point defeat at the hands of Port Adelaide, with Jake Carlisle and Jonathan Giles adding some height to help offset the loss of Michael Hurley to a knee injury.
Essendon has enjoyed a good run against the Dogs in recent times but James Hird said their six-game winning streak will count for nothing when the sides meet at Etihad Stadium.
“They’ve got a new coach and a new game style,” Hird said.
“The Bulldogs have had a good season with 10 wins and look to be heading to the finals and we’ve had a pretty disappointing year.
“Obviously they’re the favourites to win and we’ve got to be at best to beat them.”