It’s all starting to come together for Roarke Smith at the right time of the year.
The 24-year-old has just featured four times at AFL level this year – in a variety of roles. But over the past fortnight, he’s taken an opportunity and been an important part of the mix for the Western Bulldogs.
A clutch goal against the West Coast Eagles a fortnight ago, followed by another against Hawthorn to go with 15 disposals, has Smith confident he’s hitting his straps at the right time.
“I was disappointed not to be playing earlier on in the season. I tackled my pre-season training really well but I had a couple of little, niggling injuries which didn’t help me,” he told TAB Radio WA on Wednesday.
“This is the most important time of the year and it’s good to be playing a couple of games and playing some good footy.”
The Bulldogs have certainly hit their straps at the right time.
Four wins in the past five weeks sees the side within touching distance of a finals berth – and a win against Fremantle this weekend would secure a spot in the eight.
The hub-life has been a positive for the Dogs’ developing group, according to Smith.
“You’d think because we’re with each other every day, that we’d be getting sick of one another,” he said.
“But I think because we’re playing good footy at the moment, we’re all bonding and gelling really well as a group.
“We’ve got a young list and a lot of those younger boys are playing a lot of games, so they’re developing really quickly which is helping the group.
“But we just have a special bond (as a group). We’re sticking to our game plan… and we’re gelling really well as a group, which I think helps us play some good footy.”
Smith has been through more than his fair share of injury misfortune over the years, including two ACL reconstructions.
But persisting through those tough times will make him a great support to teammate Toby McLean, as he works through the long recovery process.
“I wouldn’t wish an ACL upon my worst enemy, going through two myself,” Smith said.
“Toby’s got a lot of support through the club, his family and friends, so it’s a tough time for him but we’re going to get him through to next year and hopefully he’ll come out stronger and better than he ever has been.
“I’m going to be sending him a lot of messages throughout the next couple of weeks because I’ve obviously experienced it myself.
“I’m going to support him through it as much as I can, and we’ve got other boys like Libba, so there’s a lot of boys that are going to give him support and have been through the same sort of stuff.”