Smith's new gear gives Bulldogs a lift

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Luke Beveridge knew Bailey Smith was capable of producing a scintillating AFL finals campaign, but the midfielder's added firepower has come as a welcome surprise at just the right time.

Already a cult figure, Smith has announced himself as a genuine star of the competition with a series of brilliant performances on the big stage.

The 20-year-old took his game to a new level in Saturday night's preliminary final thrashing of Port Adelaide, kicking a career-best four goals from 23 disposals.

It followed a previous best haul of three majors from 27 touches a week earlier in a match-winning semi-final display against the Brisbane Lions.

"We have always thought that he had it in him," Bulldogs coach Beveridge said after the stunning 71-point win over the Power at Adelaide Oval.

"It's a pleasant surprise when you consider he has kicked seven goals in two games, I think he kicked one in the elimination final, so eight in a final series already is brilliant for a midfielder.

"He is playing forward a little bit, pleasantly surprised with the scoreboard impact.

"Did we believe that he had it in him? Absolutely. It's just great that it's happening at the moment."

Drafted with pick seven in 2018, third-year midfielder Smith looms as a key to the Bulldogs' chances of toppling minor premiers Melbourne in the grand final on September 25.

The 66-game on-baller's undoubted talent, willingness to openly discuss his mental health, passionate on-field celebrations and flowing blonde mullet have helped garner a huge following - particularly on social media.

Another influential display to help secure the premiership against the Demons would elevate Smith to legend status among the Bulldogs' faithful.

"He's a special player, he's a special person," Beveridge said.

"I said last week with his running capacity and he's highly skilled but you don't always see it - what we're seeing now is his finish, his completion of some of his hard work for the team.

"We are getting some great reward from his hard work and to think that he hasn't missed a game yet from when he first started is a testament to his durability and how resilient he is.

"He has been outstanding. We would like another one from him in two weeks' time."

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