Bulldogs skipper Bob Murphy is confident the reigning premiers are building on a patchy start ahead of Friday night’s AFL blockbuster against GWS in Canberra.
The Dogs are sitting pretty at 4-1 but haven’t looked their convincing best. In last week’s win over Brisbane – Murphy’s 300th game – they had to claw back a six-goal deficit after halftime.
Luke Beveridge’s men will be put to the test when they face the Giants in a rematch of their instant classic preliminary final.
Forced to watch last year’s epic clash from the sidelines, Murphy is expecting another fierce contest.
The 34-year-old admits the Dogs are still finding their straps but believes they are heading in the right direction and will peak at the right time.
“I think we’re building, and I think we’ve improved each week,” Murphy told AAP.
“It’s a 22-round steeplechase and then the finals, so it’s a long way to go.
“Our form’s a little bit patchy but we’re able to get the wins on the board, and at this time of year, we’ll take that.”
Classy midfielder Caleb Daniel and teenager Bailey Williams have been recalled in place of veteran Matthew Boyd (back) and Shane Biggs (omitted).
With Beveridge not hesitant to make changes to his flag-winning side, Murphy says team chemistry hasn’t been an issue.
“We had a lot of guys play last year – we’ve had a lot of injuries – so we’ve been able to absorb a lot of change over the last few years,” he said.
“We’ll tinker with our side for the rest of the year, as most sides will. So far, it’s all going to plan.”
While Murphy has resumed leadership duties after his injury lay-off, premiership captain Easton Wood clearly remains a key leader at Whitten Oval.
The defender’s impassioned on-field address at halftime against Brisbane sent the Dogs on a massive run, booting 12 goals to two after the main break.
“We’ve got quite a bit of experience in our leadership group, and Easton’s one of those guys,” Murphy said.
“On occasion, he will take the group and speak as passionately as any of us. He cares a lot about the team and he was quite inspirational on the weekend.”