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Bulldogs name Hunter after report of axing

The Western Bulldogs have named Lachie Hunter for their AFL opener after coach Luke Beveridge hit out at a report claiming the former vice-captain will be dropped.

Hunter, one of the Bulldogs’ most prolific midfielders, will be one of 21 players from last year’s grand final to play in Wednesday night’s rematch against Melbourne at the MCG after being picked to start on the wing.

Ed Richards is the only addition from the Bulldogs’ final game of 2021, replacing retired former skipper Easton Wood.

Earlier on Tuesday, Beveridge bristled at multiple questions surrounding Hunter’s availability for the game

A Fox Sports report on Monday claimed Hunter, a 2016 premiership star, would be left out of the team to face the Demons due to form.

“I’m aware of the reports but the team will come out later,” Beveridge said at Whitten Oval.

“It’s speculation from a journalist so you can’t expect me to bite before the teams come out.

“I’m not going to talk about Lachie Hunter if this is some kind of interrogation or investigation into how he’s been going.

“It will all be unnecessary at the end of the day, anyway.”

After a difficult 2020, Hunter played in 25 of the Bulldogs’ 26 games last year, including the grand-final loss against Melbourne.

The Bulldogs have one of the deepest midfields in the AFL and Beveridge did admit it is tough to fit everyone he wanted into the team.

Premiership player Josh Dunkley became frustrated by his lack of time playing in the midfield during 2020, and unsuccessfully requested a trade to Essendon at the end of that season.

The Bulldogs can draw on Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae, Tom Liberatore, Adam Treloar, Bailey Smith, Dunkley and Hunter to run through the middle.

“There is pressure on for spots, there’s no doubt about it,” Beveridge said.

“There’s a number of boys who are putting their hand up who might be on the periphery.

“One approach isn’t sustainable for too long so hopefully we get the mix right.”

Key defender Alex Keath will take on the Demons despite suffering a knock to his shin in the Bulldogs’ final pre-season match.

“It was really limiting him post that knock in the game so it was too much of a risk,” he said.

“We took him out of the game but he’s ready to go.”

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