Beveridge’s “absolute masterstroke”
DAISY Pearce has heaped praise on Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge for the way he has handled a pair of players in particular this season.
Many had given up on Josh Schache after he struggled to fully impose himself at the Bulldogs since arriving from Brisbane four years ago.
But his coach certainly did not.
Having played just twice in 2020, Schache did not feature in the red, white and blue until round seven this season. He was used as a direct replacement for Tim English against Richmond. He was underwhelming in the loss.
We did not see the 24-year-old again at AFL level until round 19 where he was deployed in defence against Melbourne, and he was then in and out of the side until the elimination final.
Since then, Schache has played an important role in attack which has helped the Dogs through to the grand final, and the faith shown by Beveridge has been highlighted by Pearce.
She referenced the club’s preliminary final win over Port Adelaide and how Schache, in tandem with English, made Power defender Aliir Aliir accountable.
“I thought, ‘How are they going to manage Aliir?’. That had been the burning question for me,” Pearce said on SEN’s Whateley.
“From the get-go the way that English and Schache were able to manage him, but also the way that the Bulldogs used the footy. They were either sharp and clean coming out of contest by handball, as they’re so famous for doing, which just picked the defence apart.
“Or they were able to find that extra kick to land about 55 to 60 metres out, they were hitting that kick and using that player in that space so often which drew defenders out and made Aliir accountable. They just executed that perfectly.
“We spoke about it last week that Schache was going to have to play such a big role. The way that he has found his confidence and belonging in this side, I’ve just loved watching that unfold.
“You have to point to Beveridge and the way that he’s been able to coach this team. Schache is just one example of how Beveridge has kept the faith. Now he is reaping the rewards of that.”
There might just be a handful of Dogs fans out there who still believed Schache would at some point make a difference, but he may not have been in the thoughts of the majority.
The way Beveridge and his coaching staff have been able to stick with the former number two draft pick and build his confidence heading into the biggest game of his career must be commended, said Pearce, who also tipped her hat to the work done with English after he experienced some lean weeks later in the season.
She describes Beveridge’s work as an “absolute masterstroke”.
“If there’s a Bulldogs supporter out there who hand on heart says that they hadn’t given up on Schache as being an important player in this tilt, well I want to hear from them,” Pearce said.
“Beveridge did. He’s just one example sticking by him, finding a place for him down back, playing him into confidence and belief, and now utilising his assets up forward.
“Tim English is another one. He went through a really tough patch. His core position is ruck, that’s what he was drafted into that side to be, and suddenly they’re struggling out of the middle of the ground and the coach is trying to manufacture where to play him.
“The only way that he lives through that patch and then ends in the finals series to have an impact like he did on the weekend is if the messaging and care from the coach is crystal clear. Otherwise you end up a bit broken and down on confidence, but he’s not that player.
“The coaching around that and the ability to navigate and acknowledge that it was an issue, but to still love him through it, it’s an absolute masterstroke from Luke Beveridge.”
The Dogs continue to prepare for the grand final against the Demons which takes place at Optus Stadium in Perth on 25 September.
Hopefully for those of a Bulldogs persuasion, Schache and English will be instrumental in delivering the club’s third premiership.
– BY ANDREW SLEVISON/ SEN