WINNING at the MCG last Sunday was just as important as winning anywhere else, despite the external focus on our history at the ground itself.
For us it was about beating Collingwood and taking another important step towards playing finals football.
We have consistently said that the first aim of our club this year has been to qualify for finals and then we’ll worry about where we finish.
Sadly, we will have to do what we need to over the closing rounds without Nic Naitanui.
Obviously the higher we finish at the end of the qualifying rounds, the better placed we will be in for September.
Having said that, it was really satisfying to beat the Pies because it was a clash between second and third and we will take some confidence away from it.
They had won seven in a row so the Magpies were playing as well as anyone in the competition.
It was good to get another game under our belts at the MCG because if you are going to achieve the ultimate success you have to win at the home of football so it was a satisfying team performance – particularly after the Pies kicked the first three goals.
After a couple of flat performances, we have beaten some more quality opponents in the last two games and now we need to build on it.
The first challenge will come against the Western Bulldogs this week at Optus Stadium.
They are now playing some of their best football this season, so we know they will be tough to beat and we will look for the boisterous West Coast fans to help us over the line in what looms as another big game.
Already Eagles fans have flocked to the stadium in big numbers, setting a record for the most consecutive home games in AFL/VFL qualifying round history of 50,000-plus people going to our games.
As players we love the atmosphere they generate and it helps make it an imposing venue for opposition clubs.
Sadly, we will have to do what we need to over the closing rounds without Nic Naitanui. He’s such a big part of our squad it will be disappointing he will not be out there, but he will remain an integral part of our campaign.
He’s a great team man and will be supporting us whatever happens at the back end of this season.