Beveridge opens up about ‘courageous’ Bulldogs review

March 6, 2024 BY

High hopes: Luke Beveridge is eyeing a return to AFL finals in his 10th season in charge at Whitten Oval. Photo: JAMES ROSS/ AAP IMAGE

WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge insists he never feared for his job, even as the club undertook a lengthy review of its football department.

Entering his 10th season in charge at Whitten Oval, Beveridge said he feels “freed up” to help steer the Bulldogs back into AFL finals.

Premiership fancies going into the 2023 season, the Bulldogs ended up missing the finals after suffering a disastrous round-23 defeat at home to wooden spooners West Coast.

In the face of that embarrassing loss, Beveridge remained resolute that he was the right man to lead the club.

That belief never wavered for the 53-year-old, even when club president Kylie Watson-Wheeler brought in former Essendon and Melbourne chief executive Peter Jackson to lead an external review.

“I know how strong my relationships are with the playing group, and I was never concerned about my own space,” Beveridge said on SEN on Tuesday.

“But if something happened there, and it was for the best or the good of the club, and that was the decision, well obviously [I was] prepared to accept it.

“But I was never concerned.

“I was absolutely confident that if the review dug deep enough, and spoke to the right people, and there was honesty in the conversations, that it wasn’t going to be too difficult to identify the one or two things that we needed.”

Bulldogs captain Marcus Bontempelli said felt Beveridge was more connected with his players and better placed to lead club following the review.

“It feels like he’s in a great space and I think we’re all going to benefit from that,” Bontempelli said.

Beveridge said he believes it took “courage” for the Bulldogs to commission the review.

The club had already let go Beveridge’s trusted assistant Rohan Smith before the end of last season.

Matt Egan, Daniel Pratt, Jarryn Geary and Alex Johnson have since been added to the staff.

“It helps to have other people who are probably ahead of the curve or the day-by day thinking just so you can free yourself up,” Beveridge said.

“People notice when I’m distracted, so the main message to me was the players know when you’re at your best, they know who you are, the way you communicate when you’re not preoccupied with things that aren’t essential as far as performance goes.”

The Bulldogs begin their 2024 AFL home and away campaign on 17 March 17 with a match against Melbourne at the MCG.