Six-goal star Josh Bruce admits he may have been a bit too eager to impress his new teammates in the first four weeks of the season.
But a change of approach – working smarter, not harder – paid off against North Melbourne.
With Aaron Naughton and Sam Lloyd sidelined, the Bulldogs went into Saturday night without their two most prominent forwards from 2019.
But Bruce stepped up to the plate in the Bulldogs’ 49-point win.
“I was almost trying a little bit too hard to kick goals and to work too hard, and I almost put myself out of position in the first few weeks of the season if that makes sense,” the 28-year-old told The Sunday Footy Show.
“Being at a new club, I was trying really hard to have a positive impact and I was almost working too hard that by the time the contest came around I was absolutely cooked.
“I changed a couple of things around with the way I played last night and obviously it paid dividends.”
Bruce’s form had been a talking point externally leading into the game – with the off-season recruit managing just two majors in his first four weeks.
However, senior coach Luke Beveridge was quick to acknowledge the impact he was having away from the scoreboard.
A breakout performance in red, white and blue has dispelled that discussion.
“It was good to get (a bag of goals) on the board for the new team and have a good game, and obviously show the boys and the fans what I’m capable of,” Bruce said.
“It’s one of those things in the footy environment – if you’re not performing to a certain level that’s expected of you, then sure, criticism comes your way.
“But inside the four walls of the club, they were happy with the way I was going about my footy. I just wasn’t getting the rewards for my effort.
“It was good to get the monkey off the back a little bit this week, and I look forward to continuing with some momentum going forward.”