Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has described having to stand down staff, including premiership hero Dale Morris, to slash costs in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as among the most challenging episodes of his life.
The club resumed training this week without development coach Morris and midfield assistants Joel Corey and Jordan Russell, who were all let go following the enforced shutdown of the AFL.
Morris retired last year as one of the club’s most revered players, lauded for his grit and determination, including famously playing with a broken back during the Bulldogs’ unlikely 2016 finals run.
Beveridge remains hopeful there will be positions for the out-of-work coaches to come back to once league and club finances recover.
“(Morris) has got a really bright future as a coach,” Beveridge said.
“It’s just the first step on his journey and he’s constrained now, he’s not able to pursue that here at the moment.
“That’s probably one of the top-three most challenging days of my life, last Friday.
“I can only imagine how challenging it was (for) the young men who got that news as well.
“I’d love to think at some point in the future I can go to some of those guys and say ‘we’ve got a position for you if you’re willing to take it up’, but they may have moved on by then.
“There’s obviously a sadness to that and the guilt we all feel, the ones that are still in the program, and still have jobs.”
In better news for the Bulldogs, Tom Liberatore is a chance to play in round two, although the club will take a cautious approach given the premiership midfielder’s wretched history with knee injuries.