Western Bulldogs defender Easton Wood admits he didn’t expect his AFL team to be in title contention this season.
The Bulldogs are sitting sixth and showed they are ready to make their mark on the finals under first-year coach Luke Beveridge with a ruthless display in Saturday’s win over North Melbourne.
Wood acknowledged he didn’t think they could make the finals in the wake of last season’s 14th placed finish and the departures of coach Brendan McCartney and skipper Ryan Griffen.
“To be brutally honest probably no after everything that happened towards the end of last year when the club was in a bit of turmoil,” Wood said.
“The way it’s turned around has been awesome.”
The Bulldogs last played finals football in 2010 but Wood didn’t believe their lack of finals experience would count against them.
He felt the young Bulldogs didn’t carry any baggage and had approached every challenge this season head-on.
“Each game we go in to we have certainly felt, ‘Why can’t we win? Why won’t we win?’,” Wood said.
“And that’s only going to apply in the finals too.
“We don’t seem to be held back by preconceived ideas, there’s just a lot of confidence in this young group.
“With finals coming up we’ll just take that in our stride.”
The Bulldogs need to beat the last-placed Lions in Brisbane on Saturday to be assured of a home final.
Despite a formidable record at their home ground Etihad Stadium this season, winning 11 from 13, Wood said playing at the MCG wouldn’t faze his team.
“Obviously we’re used to playing at Etihad a bit more, but if you’re going to have any impact in the finals you’ve got to win at the MCG,” the 25-year-old said.
Wood’s form this season has reflected that of his team.
Last year he was battling for consistency, spending time in the VFL. But he is now mentioned as a contender to be named an All Australian.
“Being able to play consistently (has been good),” Wood said.
“I’ve had a fair few injuries over the course of my career.
“This time last year I was just fighting for my spot in the team (and) I’d been dropped back to the VFL.
“It’s nice to hear that kind of thing.”