Bevo responds to ‘softish’ Dogs claims
WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says he hopes players respond to accusations they are becoming a team with a "softish mentality" as he flagged wholesale changes to his side's Round 1 line up.
The Bulldogs will meet St Kilda on Sunday night in what shapes as an important clash for both clubs, the pair starting the season with disappointing Round 1 losses.
Beveridge's side fell to Collingwood by 52 points in March and the coach said there was set to be "an influx of maybe 4-6 players" to that side.
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Beveridge described playing in the Bulldogs' forward line in Round 1 as a "hell ride" as the side recorded just 22 inside-50s against the Magpies, having been smashed in the midfield.
The horror performance came after the Bulldogs bombed out of finals last year with a similarly poor elimination final performance against Greater Western Sydney, which they lost by 58 points.
Herald Sun chief football writer Mark Robinson wrote yesterday that the Bulldogs were now "one defeat away from being accused of having a softish mentality", a statement Beveridge did not disagree with.
"You set yourself up for those comments and those opinions and we've just got to face up to that and wear it. If that's what people think, we've got to change that opinion," Beveridge said.
"He's a pretty astute judge (Robinson). I don't know whether our players read it or not but if they do, I hope it burns a little bit. But we're all in it together.
"We've got some challenges on our hands to get our game to a consistent level, to establish something that's really worthwhile that's going to challenge some of the better teams. All that we can focus on is the Saints and obviously we're going to do our absolute best to win the game but we're well aware that we need to be leaps and bounds ahead of where we were in Round 1. Time will tell."
Midfielder Tom Liberatore is fit and available to return from a knee injury, with only Taylor Duryea (quad), Riley Garcia (knee) and Roarke Smith (quad) ruled out of selection.
"The other 42 are available for us so that's a good sign from a health perspective," Beveridge said.
"We're going to base and reward training performance as much as anything and how well the players have played in the match practice and how well they've trained being away from the club as well.
"We had a couple of players who weren't available (in Round 1) - Patty Lipinski, Lin Jong, and a handful of others. Tom Liberatore wasn't available. So whether or not they would have played? Probably. They've trained well and they probably pick themselves, so who makes way?
"There's a number of roles in our team and areas that haven't totally been bedded down so there's some real competition for spots and that's a good thing if you're playing well but when you're not, you've got to reward what's in front of you."
The Bulldogs and Saints have not scheduled a scratch match for players who miss out on AFL selection this weekend, but the Bulldogs will play a reserves curtain-raiser against North Melbourne next Friday.