AAP AFL

Emotional Dogs coach praises Boyd’s impact

By AAP Newswire

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge is hopeful the outpouring of emotion following Tom Boyd's sudden retirement proves to be an inspiration rather than a drain on his players when they take on Geelong.

Beveridge choked back tears at his weekly press conference as he spoke about Boyd's impact at the AFL club when addressing reporters at Whitten Oval on Friday morning.

In a bombshell announcement on Thursday, the Dogs revealed the 23-year-old hero of the 2016 premiership team would walk away from the game due to physical and mental health issues.

Beveridge and his team have little time to dwell on the development with a tough clash with the Cats at GMHBA Stadium on Saturday.

"Hopefully it doesn't affect the way that we play in regards to a negative, hopefully maybe it inspires them a little bit to remember the opportunities that they have," Beveridge said.

"I think they'll be right.

"We've lived Tom's journey for a long time ... it's not as big a surprise (for us) because of our experience with him so I think they'll be fine."

Boyd, picked first overall by GWS at the 2013 draft, played nine games for the Giants before he signed a seven-year, multi-million dollar deal with the Bulldogs.

He played a further 52 AFL games for the Dogs, playing a key role in the 2016 finals series and the drought-breaking grand final win over Sydney.

But mental health and back issues limited him to 23 games in the following two seasons.

The towering forward did not feature at AFL level this year and Beveridge conceded the size of the deal that lured him to the club, and the media's coverage of it, had played a part in his struggles.

"I think it compounded (his issues) because of the scrutiny around it and whether or not his output reconciled to the amount and period of time," he said.

"There's no doubt that I thought that there were, at times, people who were too hard and too keen to scrutinise, to drag him down and they probably know who they are, one in particular.

"That just shows a sheer lack of conscience and a drive to be nasty and that will never be forgiven by anyone at our football club.

"So that's a real shame because that's a choice that a certain journalist might make and it's just a window into that person's soul and how black that soul is.

"There's no doubt that the (contract) was part of it. It gave nasty individuals leverage to go down that track."

The Bulldogs haven't beaten Geelong on their home ground since 2003, but will draw confidence from snapping an 11-game losing streak against them in a two-point thriller at Marvel Stadium last season.

With first-choice ruckman Tim English still unavailable, Beveridge stuck with the same line-up that defeated Brisbane in Ball

Joel Selwood and Darcy Fort return for the Cats, who sit a game clear on the ladder with a 7-1 record.