Journalist says Luke Beveridge ‘crossed the line’; Gold Coast situation is ‘diabolical’.
AFL journalist Damian Barrett has accused Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge of “crossing the line” during his attack on the reporter following a reference to injured ruckman Tom Boyd.
Boyd, who starred in the Bulldogs’ run to the 2016 premiership but has since taken time away from the game for mental health reasons, missed the Dogs’ loss to Melbourne with a back injury and will also be absent from this weekend’s clash against Melbourne.
Writing for AFL.com.au Barrett wrote: “IF back soreness is the real reason Boyd is not playing this weekend … THEN that’s a shame. Would’ve liked to have seen him up against (Max) Gawn. Instead, (Jordan) Roughead, who Bevo has developed a set against, will go up against a guy who may be the best ruckman in the game.”
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Beveridge slammed the “disgraceful” inference the club wasn’t being entirely truthful with the reason Boyd was missing.
“With mental health such a significantly sensitive issue in our game, for (Barrett) to infer we were making up (Boyd’s) injury and that there is something else wrong, and why (he) would even go there, just shows what we’re dealing with,” Beveridge said.
“Whoever contracts and employs (Barrett), I’m inquisitive to know what the driver is from a moralistic point of view, and a contentious point of view — there’s not much there.”
Barrett defended himself on Twitter and did the same on radio, telling the Triple M Rush Hour Beveridge was completely off the mark with his assumption Barrett was referring to mental health issues when questioning why Boyd was missing.
Barrett, who admitted the feud between he and Beveridge over the past three years has become personal, said he was actually referring to a finger injury to Boyd, which he claims the club hasn’t been honest about.
“I don’t know, I honestly don’t know (why Beveridge is jumping to conclusions about mental health),” Barrett said. “Luke Beveridge has got every right to go as hard as he wants on me at any stage he wants.
“But what I would ask — and this is where this is wrong and unfortunate for Tom Boyd — is that in going down this path of pointscoring on mental health is where Luke Beveridge has actually crossed the line.
“He’s dragged his own player, Tom Boyd, into this situation, as leverage in his own dispute and dislike of me.
“There is no reference to what he said there was, there was no inference to what he said there was.
“We know that he had been struggling from a back injury but what we don’t know is what the Bulldogs have been failing to tell us, is he’s also been suffering with and struggling with a badly broken finger.
“I don’t know where this reference and this inference (to mental health) that he is referring to has come about.”
SUNS’ SITUATION IS ‘DIABOLICAL’
Gold Coast coach Stuart Dew admitted yesterday all signs point towards out of contract key forward Tom Lynch leaving the club at season’s end and things could get even worse if fellow co-captain Steven May follows suit when his contract expires at the end of next year.
May has denied he intends to walk away from the Suns despite rumoured interest from Collingwood, telling Sam McClure on SEN’s Time On: “I’m still a contracted player for next year and my focus is trying to lead this team. I am out of contract next year so no doubt you guys will be asking the same questions, but at this stage I’m committed to the Suns.”
McClure said it’s “bad news” when a player uses the phrase “at this stage”, and Melbourne legend Garry Lyon said the departure of senior players would be disastrous for the struggling franchise.
“I don’t want to sound like a defeatist, but it is diabolical,” Lyon said on SEN Breakfast.
“They’re going to have to go to the draft, then the best kids go up there, endure this pain for three years, when they’re out of contract, they’re coming back home — it’s a vicious cycle.
“Not only are you looking at potentially both captains leaving, you’re looking at (Richmond’s) Josh Caddy, you’re looking at (Tigers star) Dion Prestia … they left, how do you think they’re going?
“I fear for Gold Coast.”
Dew said on Tuesday “it’s not looking great” when quizzed about the prospect of Lynch remaining on the glitter strip next season and Lyon says the fact the coach was prepared to say that publicly means he’s likely resigned to losing the 25-year-old.
“Your coach wouldn’t even allude to that if he didn’t have a better-than-good idea that the player is gone,” Lyon said. “You wouldn’t be talking like that if you didn’t really know.”
The Suns are 17th on the ladder and have won just three of 16 games.
AFL ICONS SPLIT ON RULE CHANGES
AFL legend Malcolm Blight says anyone resisting rule changes in the code should quit their posts.
Leading AFL players and coaches are divided on proposed rule changes which Collingwood coach Nathan Buckley fears would be a “blight” on the game. But dual premiership coach Blight says changes must happen to save the code as a spectacle.
“Our game is choking itself to death,” Blight told Adelaide radio station 5AA on Wednesday night. “Change is coming. If you don’t like it, resign and go and join the unemployment queue.”
The AFL’s competition committee will meet next Wednesday and several ideas are in the mix, with the elimination of congestion around the ball a top priority. Momentum is building for the introduction of starting positions at centre bounces and stoppages following trials at a number of clubs.
But Collingwood coach Buckley fears the change would kill the flow of the game. “I don’t like it. I think it will be a blight on the game,” Buckley told SEN radio on Wednesday.
“The goal-line technology has proven to be not perfect; it deadens and slows the flow of the game, the game stops at times to wait for that to happen.
“I think if we go to zones, we’re going to be waiting for players to get back in the zones. And how often do you want to do that?
“Every time there’s a stoppage in the forward 50, we’re waiting for three pairs of players to go and get back in the opposite 50. That’s what the product is likely to descend into.”
Blight said Buckley was being shortsighted. “What Nathan Buckley can’t do is see the future,” Blight said. “The game is so slow at times, it’s boring.
“Coaches and players should stay out of this discussion.”
AFL Players’ Association president Patrick Dangerfield said starting positions would create a more watchable game.
“I wouldn’t see it as a blight,” the Geelong star said. “I think we need to give it a chance to work first.
Geelong coach Chris Scott has also expressed support for starting points while Western Bulldogs counterpart Luke Beveridge is firmly opposed. Dangerfield, who is a member of the 12-man competition committee, has viewed footage from the initial trials and liked what he saw.
“I really like the look of it,” he said. “It reminded me of 2005 when you would see a stoppage and (dual Brownlow Medallist Chris) Judd burst out of a pack, and he’d have 20 metres of space to run into before he was confronted with any numbers.”
Once the competition committee rubberstamps any rule changes, they will go before the AFL executive and then the commission will have the final say. The AFL will trial any rule changes in a full game, most likely in the VFL, by the end of the season.