Bailey Smith showed he had ice in his veins with a game-winning goal against Brisbane and one teammate has been blown away by his clutch finals work.
Bailey Smith has shown no fear of stepping up in big moments this finals series and his Western Bulldogs teammates have been amazed at how the rising star has so quickly gone to “new levels”.
After seven goals in his past two finals, just the third and fourth of his three-year AFL career, Smith has shown a capacity to produce when it mattered beyond most 20-year-olds.
Lachie Hunter was only 22-years-old himself when he was part of the Bulldogs’ premiership in 2016.
But seeing what Smith, who is only 20, has done, lifting in clutch moments and when everything was at stake, has left Hunter in awe.
“I have at times (been amazed),” Hunter said on Wednesday,
“It can be incredibly daunting as a 20-year-old coming into these games and you are just probably hoping to blend in and be how you were during the year.
“But he seems to have taken his game to new levels and in those moments when we needed a match winner, he has bobbed up, which is impressive from a 20-year-old.
“He’s got a really good understating of the moment. He doesn’t shy away when those big moments come in games. That’s something that’s unbelievable as a 20-year-old.
“He seems to know when someone needs to lift or we need some kind of effort to pick us up.
“You normally look at your most experienced players in that moment, but for a kid to be doing it at 20 years of age, it’s going to be good to watch for a long time.”
Smith will be one of at least 13 Bulldogs getting their first taste of Grand Final experience, a number set to Latham Vandermeer.
He has already completed a full training session this week and has overcome the hamstring tightness which forced him to be subbed out of the preliminary final win over Port Adelaide.
Defender Alex Keath was set to be put to the test behind closed doors in the Bulldogs’ main session for the week at Optus Stadium on Wednesday, but was also likely to take his place after missing the win over Port.
Hunter, as a premiership player, said the younger players had asked some questions about the Grand Final experience, but were mostly just “enjoying the moment”.
“You get a few questions form the younger boys who haven’t been there before, but they are just enjoying the experience for themselves,” he said.,
“It’s all fresh and new. Having had the three (finals) wins we have had, they are just enjoying the moment, those young kids.”
Hunter said his own Grand Final advice to himself was simple, too as he looked to add a second premiership medallion.
“To be yourself throughout the game – you don’t need to do anything different,” he said.
“Just backing in what we have done to get here. Some people try and overperform or do things different. Just stick to what you know.”