Home / World News / Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge backs All-Australian selectors over forward choices

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge backs All-Australian selectors over forward choices

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has backed the All-Australian selectors’ decision to overlook traditional forwards for Marcus Bontempelli, Patrick Dangerfield and Dustin Martin, saying defenders would be more worried about playing against the star trio than specialist forwards.

There was uproar after the All-Australian team was announced given only three genuine forwards – Ben Brown, Liam Ryan and Charlie Dixon were selected.

Dan Butler, Tom Papley, Jack Gunston, Matt Taberner and Zak Butters were all left out of the team despite being named in the 40-man squad.

Butler led the league for tackles inside 50 and was eighth for goals. Taberner, Gunston and Papley were all top-10 for goals and Butters ranked equal fifth for goal assists

In contrast, Bontempelli (2nd), Dangerfield (equal 10th) and Martin (equal 19th) were all highly ranked for centre clearances and have made their name as midfielders.

Bontempelli ranked equal 66th for goals, equal 33rd for tackles inside 50, equal 63rd for marks inside 50 and equal 87th for forward 50 ground ball gets, yet was selected at half-forward.

But Beveridge said the selections were an indication of how damaging the trio could be anywhere on the field.

Dan Butler was considered terribly unlucky to miss out on the All-Australian team after a strong year in the forward pocket
Camera IconDan Butler was considered terribly unlucky to miss out on the All-Australian team after a strong year in the forward pocket Credit: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

“I know there’s some conjecture around specialist roles but I think if you ask the hypothetical ‘If Marcus played in the forward line all year how many goals would he kick?’ He could possibly win the Coleman,” Beveridge said.

“If you ask any backman ‘What sort of forward line would you want to play against?’ If it’s got Bontempelli, Dangerfield and Martin in it, as opposed to some of those boys who missed out, who had outstanding years, I think they’d probably rather play against the other lads.

“They’ve all earned it and Marcus has been outstanding.”

The Bulldogs will play St Kilda in an elimination final on Saturday and Beveridge declared Aaron Naughton and Mitch Wallis as certain inclusions.

Naughton had surgery on a depressed fracture of the cheekbone after the team beat Fremantle last week, while Wallis injured his shoulder during the same match.

Naughton is yet to train but Beveridge said the week off between games had helped the West Australian.

“‘Naughts’ will be fine to play. He’s a bit out of sync now because of having surgery but he’ll train with the group on Monday,” Beveridge said.

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