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Finals dream about to become reality for emerging Dogs superstar

Aaron Naughton booted 30 goals from 22 home and away games this season - AFL,Aaron Naughton,Western Bulldogs
Aaron Naughton booted 30 goals from 22 home and away games this season

THE WESTERN Bulldogs famously proved that anything was possibly during their fairytale 2016 finals campaign.

But Bulldogs forward Aaron Naughton doesn't need to take the word of his premiership teammates to know that; he witnessed it first-hand. 

As the Dogs broke their 62-year flag drought on the first day of October three years ago, Naughton was in the MCG crowd after playing in the Under-17 NAB Futures game earlier that day.

A little over 12 months later, he would be drafted to the Bulldogs with pick No.9 in the 2017 NAB AFL Draft. 

"I was actually sitting in the crowd that day," Naughton said. 

"It was pretty exciting to see what they experienced but it's a very different group this time around."

Although that premiership was just three seasons ago, only eight of the flag-winning 22 played last weekend against Adelaide, with an additional four (Dale Morris, Tom Liberatore, Tory Dickson and Caleb Daniel) on the injury list.

Naughton will be one of up to 11 Bulldogs who will run out in their first final against Greater Western Sydney on Saturday – a moment he admits he has been dreaming about for some time.

"I definitely have (been dreaming about final footy). Obviously I play footy to hopefully at one stage win a flag, and to play finals every year is the aim," the 20-year-old said.

"I'm definitely looking forward to running out there in my first final and having a really good crack at it."

 

Naughton's opponent is likely to be Giants co-captain and star defender Phil Davis.

The pair went head-to-head for the whole match just a fortnight ago, in the Bulldogs' 61-point win in round 22.

Honours were pretty even at the end of the contest, with Naughton held to eight disposals, five marks and 2.2.

"We had a pretty solid match-up," Naughton said.  

 

"Obviously he's experienced and a very good defender and I'll be looking forward to that match-up no doubt."

The second-year Bulldog has had a fantastic season, leading the League in contested marks (53) and kicking 30 goals from 22 games.