A “stunned” Nathan Buckley was in disbelief watching Luke Beveridge’s wild press conference rant — just like everyone else.
Nathan Buckley was left “stunned” by Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge’s extraordinary press conference attack on a journalist over team selection as the rest of the footy world also condemned the premiership-winning mentor.
After a loss to Melbourne in the AFL season opener on Wednesday night, Beveridge let rip at Fox Footy journalist Tom Morris over his report earlier in the week Bulldogs midfielder Lachie Hunter wouldn’t be selected for Round 1 because of form.
After initially being named in the team, Hunter was booted from the starting 22 and named the medical substitute, before finally being included at the very last minute after Jason Johannisen picked up a leg inury in the warm-up.
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In his post-match press conference, Beveridge confirmed Morris was correct when he said naming and then making Hunter the medical sub was the plan “from Sunday”.
Beveridge fumed at a question from Morris and launched a searing tirade at the reporter, accusing him of spreading “muckraking trash” and labelling him a “gutter journalist” and an “embarrassment to what you do”.
He then refused to answer any more questions and stormed out of the press conference.
After watching the shocking exchange unfold, Buckley was gobsmacked when asked on Fox Footy what he made of Beveridge’s rant.
“I was stunned,” Buckley said. “He’s admitted that there’s info getting out of his own football club that he’s not happy about.
“To say that Tom has taken advantage of that is like putting an Easter egg in front of a five-year-old kid and expecting him not to eat it when you walk out of the room. It’s there, it’s a free hit. And that is Tom’s job to share information that comes across, to check it, verify it and then share it.
“I understand Bevo’s perspective … in a coach’s position, you want to control all the information in your football club.
“Often the coach will be agitated but he won’t share that.
“That’s abnormal. We don’t see that very often. There’s going to be ramifications from that. Unfortunately this is a big story, it’s going to be replayed.
“Bevo has a great belief in his side, in the way that he sees things and he’s a dog at a bone, like Tom who got that information and shared it, because that’s his nature and his job.
“That’s an emotional response and he’s created something that he’s now going to have to handle and deal with.
“That surprised and amazed me. I just could not believe what I was seeing because that is not what we’ve come to expect. There’s got to be respect both ways. You’ve got to understand there’s jobs to do, it’s a big industry.”
The former Collingwood coach added: “The only thing that we’ve seen close to that is Mick Malthouse and (former Channel 7 reporter) Mark Stevens and that carried on.
“I think when Bevo looks back at that, he’ll go, ‘I wish I had my time again’.”
Fellow AFL greats slammed Beveridge, declaring it was completely unjustified to attack Morris so personally for doing his job.
“To describe him as a gutter journalist was way over the top,” Melbourne great Garry Lyon said on Fox Footy.
“I think he’s let himself down in this instance. I think the AFL won’t like that one bit and nor should they. The AFL media association won’t like that one bit. It’s a respect industry that we’re in and like it or not, Tom was doing nothing but his job.”
Triple premiership player Jonathan Brown said: “That’s poor form. Tom Morris is there to do his job. Bevo is there to coach his football team. Tom Morris is there to get news.
“It was about a dropped player, it wasn’t about a mental health issue or anything like that.”
Nick Riewoldt added: “To say he’s got a conflict of interest because the Bulldogs were playing Melbourne is out of line.
“I think Bevo’s just lost his composure there, he’s been under a bit of pressure or whatever.
“We’re talking about a player that’s been dropped from the side. We’re not talking about a player’s medical issues or mental health or anything like that.
“I think Bevo overstepped. That was a pretty public, national attack on Tom.”
‘Pathetic, absolute, disgrace’: Social media reacts to Beveridge attack
Footy reporters and fans were quick to condemn Beveridge for his outrageous attack, suggesting he was the only one in this episode who should be embarrassed by his behaviour.
Football expert Daniel Garb said Beveridge’s conduct was “pathetic”.
“Even if Tom was wrong, which he wasn’t, who deserves an attack like that in public over a player selection story?!” he said on Twitter. “And he (Beveridge) talks about protecting mental health. Disgraceful.”
Former rugby league journalist Chris Garry added: “Disgusting from Luke Beveridge. Fans want to know who is really playing each round not the fake team list. @tommorris32 is there to find truth rather than re-write a press release.
“Beveridge’s moronic behaviour provides insight to why staff are leaking against him.”
Radio host Jedd Zetzer said: “The way Luke Beveridge spoke to Tom Morris is nothing short of an absolute disgrace.
“Possibly Tom didn’t run the story past the WB before reporting it but that is not a requirement and Tom was just doing his job. Bevo really embarrassed himself tonight.
“Also to suggest that Tom was ‘preying’ on the club because he barracks for Melbourne and is ‘causing turmoil within the football club’ is just absolute madness.”
Channel 7 journalist Mitch Cleary tweeted: “So the Dogs picked their team Sunday and lodged it incorrectly – on purpose – Tuesday night because of a media report. Highly embarrassing for the club.”
Australian media mogul Craig Hutchison wrote: “Haven’t seen a coach lose a battle of public opinion versus a journalist ever – let alone this convincingly.”
Daniel Cherny of CODE said he’s “never seen anything like it” and to accuse Morris of disrupting the Dogs’ preparation because he’s a Melbourne supporter is “ridiculous”.
“Having a go at a journo for trying to source confidential information is like criticising a footy coach for trying to win,” Cherny tweeted. “Elements within the club cannot believe how Bevo gets away with this stuff.”
ABC reporter Catherine Murphy said: “If a journalist can cause ‘turmoil’ in a club, by naming a team early (or by doing anything else for that matter), it doesn’t say a lot for where a club is at, going into a game.”