“The whole time we’ve been here we’ve been about wanting to play finals because that’s the ultimate in footy – finals and then a grand final,” McCluggage said.
“In everyday talk and during the weeks we don’t talk about it because we know that every game is so important and you can just be off your guard a little bit like we were against Carlton and you lose those sort of games.
“As soon as you start thinking we can lock these games in and we might lose a couple against these good teams, you just start letting that get into you head and you start playing a little bit scared.”
Bouncing back from that defeat to the Blues with a 56-point thrashing of the Saints was the perfect tonic to restoring confidence and belief for the back end of the season, McCluggage says.
The return of former Ballarat Clarendon College classmate Jarrod Berry to the Lions’ lineup to take on the Demons is a plus for McCluggage, who admits the pair provide a boost to each other on the field.
Berry has been included straight into the team after recovering from a knee injury and McCluggage was excited to team up once again with his fellow 2016 draft selection.
“Bez is obviously a very tough player, he brings a lot of grunt and he plays hard. His running power is actually quite good as well,” McCluggage said.
“We’ve played footy together for four or five years. We definitely have that little connection that people probably see.
“You don’t really run out there thinking about that but it just seems to happen a little bit.”