A few messages have been exchanged between Josh Bruce and his former teammates this week.
The stage couldn’t be better set for the 28-year-old, who finally gets his first crack at an AFL final this week – against St Kilda.
Bruce spent six years as a Saint – following a couple with the GWS Giants – and after 129 games at the highest level is looking forward to being there at the business end.
“I’ve been in the game for nine seasons now, so I’m very excited to play my first final,” Bruce told media today.
“I’m normally on holidays at this time of year and watching very enviously of all the teams that are in. I’m really looking forward to testing my mettle in September – or October, as it is this year.
“A lot of the boys texted me around the birth, a few little ‘see you on Saturday’ messages and that sort of thing.
“We had the game earlier in the year, and that kind of got any of the nerves of anxiety away from playing them. Now I’m just really looking forward to – hopefully – beating them. It should be a good match, they’re obviously going really well and we’re in good form ourselves.”
The Saints well and truly had the Bulldogs’ measure earlier this season, running away with a 39-point win in round two.
However, the Bulldogs have come a long way since their 0-2 start and Bruce will have his eyes set on settling the score now against his old mob, when it matters most.
The development of the forward line, around Bruce, Aaron Naughton and Mitch Wallis, has been a big part of that on-field progression.
“I think as an entire offence we’re actually playing some pretty nice footy. We’re quite a high-scoring team, especially the last couple of months or so,” Bruce said.
“While some might not be individually getting the plaudits and kicking the bags of goals, I’m part of a forward line that’s working pretty well, we think.
“It’s important to be versatile and have a lot of guys scoring in a team if you want to go far into finals, so hopefully we’re part of a team that’s going to do that.”
Bruce acknowledged there had been a challenge or two adapting to a new team and system.
But he has been a constant in a forward mix that has seen plenty of change and is now starting to taste success.
“Part of my role in the team is to provide a big contest and bring other people into the game,” Bruce said.
“Whether I’m marking it and kicking goals or not, just bringing it to ground level and stopping them from marking it is equally important and holds weight in Bevo’s mind.
“I’m sure it’ll turn for me the goals and stuff like that, but it’s not really a concern. We’re in a successful side at the moment and looking to go as far as we can.”