Jason Tutt in action. Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
Greater Western Sydney might call Manuka Oval home, but the Western Bulldogs have recalled hometown hero Jason Tutt after he inspired his team to victory in the corresponding fixture last year.
Tutt was one of three changes to the Bulldogs side for Saturday's clash with the Giants at Manuka and he kicked a crucial goal that sparked the Doggies to a narrow win over the Giants in the nation's capital last season.
Ex-Bulldog Jason Akermanis thinks it will be a close encounter, but felt the Giants should aim to knock off his former club and he believes eighth spot on the AFL ladder is a realistic goal, despite GWS laughing off talk of the "F" word on Thursday.
The hype surrounding the fledgling side has been accompanied by a marked shift in the GWS psyche, with co-captain Callan Ward going into the clash disappointed they had not won all three games this season rather than being satisfied with their best ever start.
Akermanis was part of the Brisbane Lions side regarded as one of the best in the modern era and he has seen enough in the Giants' first three games to think the AFL's newest club should be setting finals as their goal for 2014 – just their third season in the competition.
The Bulldogs are also a team on the rise, but Akermanis believes they don't have the same amount of talent as the Giants and would need to rely on teamwork to make up for it.
Akermanis added it would be a game Giants coach Leon Cameron would be desperate to win, having played 172 games for the Doggies and spent seven seasons at the kennel as an assistant coach.
"The Giants should be thinking, 'We're going to push near and around the top eight' and that's realistic for them," Akermanis said.
"Their expectations internally should start to step up.
"You've just got to win 12 games.
"I would've thought this was a step in winning the 12, this is certainly a winnable game for them.
"I know the Dogs are going OK and it's not going to be easy, but these type of teams are the teams they need to start to beat regularly."
The Giants have had their best start to a season.
They opened with a shock victory over cross-town rivals Sydney Swans, narrowly lost to St Kilda and then had their second straight win over a hapless Melbourne.
But rather than be satisfied, Ward, who has been in brilliant form, was disappointed they weren't going into their first game this season at Manuka undefeated.
It shows the club's mentality is quickly changing from AFL easybeats to future finalist.
"I'm here to stay, I'm only in the third year of my five-year contract and I'll be looking to extend that for sure," Ward said.
"Last year we only won the one game for the whole season and to be two [wins] and one [loss] is pleasing, but at the same time it's disappointing because we could've won that game against the Saints the other week.
"It's a good feeling knowing that whoever we play we're in with a chance and even in the warm-up there's a buzz because everyone's so confident that we can take on whoever it is."
Jed Lamb will make his Giants debut as he and Liam Sumner replace the suspended Devon Smith and former Bulldog Dylan Addison (omitted).
Tutt, Tom Young and Koby Stevens have come in for Jordan Roughead, Jason Johannisen and Luke Dahlhaus for the Bulldogs.