Rookie coach, veteran captain, exciting young list, electrifying footy – the Western Bulldogs are the story of the 2015 AFL season.
Saturday’s win against Port Adelaide propelled the Bulldogs into fourth place with four rounds remaining. Not bad considering an off-season that saw the coach sacked, the captain walk out, a handful of senior stars seek new homes and reigning best and fairest winner Tom Liberatore sidelined for the year with a knee injury.
“The excitement that [finals] could actually happen drives you to do all of the one percenters off the field to be fit and healthy and ready to go.”
Creative forward Luke Dahlhaus, who has played 89 games for the Bulldogs, said it’s an exciting time to be at the Whitten Oval.
And rather than keeping a lid on expectations, the 22-year-old is embracing the hype.
“We’re allowed to talk about finals because (there are) blokes like me who haven’t experienced it yet or been close to it,” Dahlhaus told Channel Seven recently.
“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t in the back of my mind.
“The excitement that it could actually happen drives you to do all of the one percenters off the field to be fit and healthy and ready to go.”
Dahlhaus was pursued by Melbourne during last year’s trade period but the club and player knocked back the proposed deal.
The Geelong Falcons product was given his AFL opportunity by the Bulldogs in the 2011 rookie draft when his name was called out at pick No.22.
He was a Rising Star nominee that year alongside the likes of Dyson Heppell, Luke Shuey, Mitch Duncan, Allen Christensen and Luke Breust.
“I would love to be a one-club player … I always want to repay the faith and stay with the Bulldogs for the rest of my career.
“Recently a lot of boys have signed up again and it just shows how close we are, shows the confidence in each other, the coach, the game plan.
“We are all loving it, we’re a tight-knit group, and just looking forward to the future.”
Dahlhaus is also building his career away from footy in a bid to maximise his time in the game.
“It’s very important to have something outside of footy.
“Footy can be very up and down. You can be on cloud nine and at rock bottom.
“I am doing a building apprenticeship. Me and Lachie Hunter, every day off we go to trade school, and that day is amazing. You feel normal and forget about footy for the day.
“It took me about four years for me to decide what I wanted to do. I did some business courses, then I did the building apprenticeship and liked it.”