MISSING the Western Bulldogs' first finals appearance since 2010 is spurring Jordan Roughead on as he prepares for 2016.
The 25-year-old told AFL.com.au he was shattered to miss last year's final against Adelaide through injury and had returned to pre-season frustrated with the way the season ended for him and the club.
Roughead is yet to play in a final after six seasons and 88 games with the club he grew up barracking for as a Ballarat youngster.
So now that he's back into full training after recovering from finger surgery that ruled him out of September action, and over the foot problems that hampered him at times in 2015, Roughead is resolute.
"Missing that final … it has made me want it a bit more," Roughead said.
"[I'll] use it as a bit of motivation to make sure if we are in the same position coming into the finals in 2016, my body is in the right nick and I am ready to push on."
Not that he could have done much more to be out on the ground with his teammates - the only reason he was sidelined was bad luck.
But small things can help enormously when grinding your body through another pre-season, particularly ahead of a season that promises plenty.
In 2015 the Bulldogs beat four finalists in the first five games to set up their season and won 14 matches for the season. But they only played three top-eight opponents (for one win) in the final 17 games.
And they lost their only final.
Such a reality can temper any excitement about the huge gains made in 2015.
"We know we still have a long way to go to compete well with the teams up the top end of the table," Roughead said.
Roughead, a good leader, thinks he can improve significantly on his form from the past two seasons.
"[It's] been a bit frustrating from a personal perspective. Even when I have been out there I haven't been able to perform, whether it is through form or my body not holding up, the way I think that I can," Roughead said.
"Hopefully I will be able to this year."
Having played in defence, Roughead is being schooled as a ruck-forward this pre-season, a role with increased importance due to teammate Stewart Crameri being one of Essendon's 34 past and present players to receive a season-long ban on January 12.
"I don't care where I play. Wherever I can help the team and wherever the coaches and the rest of the playing group want me playing, or see me playing, is where I want to be," Roughead said.
If he can make a good fist of the role, then his coaches will be able to deploy him to any part of the ground. That's all he wants - to be an asset for his coaches and teammates.
"For me it's about building my tank up to a level where I can spend, if I have to, a good 10-12 minutes in the ruck and then go forward," Roughead said.
"You have to be able to go up [forward] and cover ground and go back to half-back and be involved in team defence and then work back down [to the forward line] when we win the footy and try to be on the end of it."
With Will Minson, Tom Campbell, Jack Redpath, Tom Boyd and Roughead all candidates to play a ruck/forward role, competition for spots will be high.
All footballers say such a situation is healthy but they also know it comes with a sting.
"[You] have to be out there performing week in and week out to cement that spot," Roughead said.
That's what he intends to do.
On Wednesday the Western Bulldogs head to Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast for a 10-day training camp.
When they return the season will almost be upon them, as they open the NAB Challenge away against Greater Western Sydney on February 25.
"We know we have the hard work ahead of us. At the end of the day, we lost in week one of the finals, so there is a lot of improvement that still needs to happen," Roughead said.