Former St Kilda and North Melbourne star Nick Dal Santo says the evenness of the competition this year means no team – even the reigning premier Western Bulldogs – are certain finalists.
The Bulldogs finished last year’s home and away season in seventh place with 14 wins before going on a barnstorming run in September that led to their first flag since 1954.
Dal Santo told SEN Afternoons that they’ll need to start the season well, or risk playing catch up in what he deems an “even competition”.
“They won a lot of close games last year and a bounce of a ball here and there throughout the year (could have changed some results),” he said on SEN afternoons.
“I’m not saying that they will (miss the finals) – they are a great team and they deserved the premiership last year, but I just see the competition being so even.
“If the Bulldogs don’t get off to a good start – they’ve got a harder draw finishing in the top six – that they could get rolled in games that you’d probably expect them to win.”
The Bulldogs kick off their pre-season campaign tomorrow at VU Whitten Oval when they take on a Melbourne side who many think will be one of the big improvers this year.
The 322-gamer, who has joined the SEN Footy team in 2017, said that he expects the Dees to take further steps towards a return to finals action – they last played finals in 2006 – and the addition of four-time Hawthorn premiership player Jordan Lewis cannot be overlooked.
“Improvement will come, what percent we’ll wait and see,” he said about the Demons chances in 2017.
“Jordan Lewis is a huge inclusion, not only on the field (but off-field too).
“I feel like there’s two different styles when you’re a player. Its on the field with what you deliver – the possessions, how you actually play; your performance, but there is also Monday to Friday and I reckon the information that he can pass onto a younger group that are coming into their own a little bit (will be vital).”