WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has dismissed concerns the AFL’s bye could arrest his side’s momentum ahead of Saturday’s elimination final against GWS.
Instead, Beveridge says the week off presented his players with an opportunity to freshen up for a premiership tilt.
The Bulldogs famously brought back five players from injury after the pre-finals bye in 2016 and then knocked off hot favourites West Coast in an elimination final, before marching to an unlikely flag.
But this year is a vastly different story.
Beveridge’s side is unchanged this week from round 23 and is riding a wave of energy after building an 8-3 record during the second half of the home-and-away season.
“We will go in with fresh legs, like everyone will, and that’s a good thing for every team playing their first final,” Beveridge told reporters on Friday.
“I’m not worried whether there’s another week’s break or not.
“I think if it was a month it’s probably a bit different but we should be able to pick up where we left off.
“Obviously there will be a significant amount of pressure in the game and maybe the game will be different.
“But playing together and establishing some cohesion and consistency in some of our team traits, hopefully that holds us in good stead.”
GWS took advantage of the bye and loaded up at selection with Toby Greene, Jacob Hopper, Nick Haynes and retiring veteran Brett Deledio all returning for the clash at Giants Stadium.
Beveridge was in a philosophical mood when asked if talk of the bye hampering his side was disrespectful.
“It’s probably identifying the fact that there’s a handful of teams, and GWS are one of them, that have brought players back in that have had some time off with injury, and that maybe that doesn’t necessarily suit us,” Beveridge said.
“But you can look at it the other way – maybe they haven’t had the continuity and now it’s a challenge for them to establish that with some of the changes.
“We just continue to focus on what we can control and the boys have really enjoyed the last couple of weeks.
“We’ve definitely reflected on what a monumental achievement it has been to make the finals (after a 4-7 start to the season) and now the slate is clean.
“It’s a great opportunity for us.”
The Bulldogs hold no fears heading into the Giants Stadium contest, having blitzed GWS on the same ground three weeks ago.
But Beveridge said GWS’ personnel changes made the Giants a different proposition this time around.
© AAP 2019