Bevo responds to nightmare start

Western Bulldogs vs St Kilda
Luke Beveridge says he is only worried about what he can control as pressure mounts on his position at the Western Bulldogs. Picture: Michael Klein

Luke Beveridge says he accepts speculation over his future is a consequence of the Western Bulldogs’ poor start to the season but will not be distracted from righting the ship.

The Western Bulldogs coach said he was aware criticism of him was “reasonably intense” following a horror 0-2 start to the season but didn’t feel a need to respond to his detractors.

“There’s no rebuttals, there’s no use me arguing against it, basically we haven’t started the year well,” Beveridge said.

“Does it affect my belief in myself as a coach? Absolutely not. We’re in a really good place to rebound out of it.

“All that I do is focus on what I can influence and control – I can’t do anything about what the speculation is.”

Brisbane looms as a huge obstacle to the Bulldogs claiming their first win of the season on Thursday night, but Beveridge said he was trying to “not be overbearing” on his players coming off a five-day break.

The Bulldogs still needed to play with freedom and flair to win matches despite the issues they faced with maintaining their defensive shape on the field, Beveridge said.

“We’ve had some discussions, and it’s striking a balance between making sure they’ve got clarity tomorrow night and also understanding the pressing need to make sure we give a really strong account of ourselves,” he said.

“I think it’s more the nature of the losses that’s got everyone up in arms.

“Defending as a team and the pressure aspect of the game hasn’t been where it needs to be … training has been focused on that, but as I said, in a short turnaround you can’t do a lot of it.”

The coach said he was “steering clear” of fuelling any animosity towards the Lions and last season’s best and fairest winner Josh Dunkley.

“There’s too many imperatives and priorities for us to make sure we get right for there to be this side aspect of Josh … he had a pretty good game last week, and as I said, he’s got some pretty influential teammates around him up there as well.

“We need to get our stuff right from our brigade who are playing those roles, and Josh will just be another Brisbane player.”

Beveridge was tight-lipped on any selection news ahead of Wednesday night’s team announcement but confirmed Jamarra Ugle-Hagan would play after the young forward took time away from the club on Monday following abhorrent racial abuse on Saturday night.

Small forward Arthur Jones will make his debut against the Lions, while it is unclear whether injured duo Adam Treloar and Rory Lobb will be available for selection.