A strong finish to last season has given South Fremantle full- forward Ben Saunders and his teammates a confidence boost ahead of today's twilight game against Subiaco at Medibank Stadium.
Former Claremont squad member Saunders took the WAFL by storm and was touted as a potential AFL draft pick after winning the Bernie Naylor Medal as the league's leading goal kicker in 2012.
The 22-year-old was cut down by collarbone injuries, which restricted him to 26 goals in eight games last year, 21 coming in the last six rounds when the Bulldogs won four games.
Saunders said that finish and some encouraging signs in pre-season matches against Claremont and Peel augured well.
"We spoke about that at the end of last year, to carry all that confidence forward," Saunders said.
"I think the same thing happened to us the year before as well. We were going below average during the year and then we strung some games together at the end once everyone worked it out."
Describing 2013 as a "really frustrating year" personally, Saunders said it had been difficult watching the team battle before its late rally.
"It was probably harder to sit down and watch us struggle more than a personal thing," he said.
Although his dream of playing in the AFL remained intact, Saunders said he was more focused on helping the premiers of 2005 and 2009 return to finals.
"It's definitely still alive," he said. "Players get taken in the AFL who are older than me.
"I'm going to chase that as long as I can but coming into this year I'm really focused on having a good year as a team."