AFL 2024; Jack Macrae will play for the Western Bulldogs against West Coast

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Western Bulldogs midfielder Jack Macrae will play his firs game of the year against West Coast as coach Luke Beveridge admitted last year’s horror round 22 loss to the Eagles “left a pretty bad taste” and he expected a reaction this week.

The Bulldogs had their finals hoped ended in a devastating seven-point loss at Marvel Stadium and more than 200 days later Beveridge said his players would still be feeling a “stigma” about what happened.

As he declared captain Marcus Bontempelli was more likely to play than not after rolling his ankle in last week’s win over Gold Coast, Beveridge said reflecting on the match last year was not part of his planning for Sunday’s showdown, but there was something more at stake for those who endured last year’s defeat.

“As much as you try and move on and focus on what’s up ahead, it left a pretty bad taste in everyone’s mouth,” he said.

“We lowered our colours in an important game. In preparation for this game, we haven’t even talked about it. I just know it’s in the players’ subconscious. The vast majority of the team picked … they’ll be feeling there is a stigma attached to what happened last year.

“I think there will be some kind of response there.”

Beveridge said it was impossible to ignore Macrae, who had been overlooked for the opening two games of the season, after he gathered a massive 46 disposals in the VFL last week.

He said the three-time All-Australian, who was squeezed out of the Bulldogs’ midfield last season and played across half-forward, would be back on ball against the Eagles, whether he attends centre-bounces or not.

“You can’t have a player perform to the level Jack did last week and not find a spot for him, especially when you have a few injuries,” Beveridge said, having lost Nick Coffield (shoulder) and Ed Richards (concussion) from last week’s team.

“Jack played as a midfielder last week, and while he might not have been at as many centre bounces, go and have a look at all the other stoppages outside of it.

“Jack will definitely play as midfielder. How many centre bounces he goes to, I can’t tell you.”

Beveridge said Macrae was “crocodile blooded” and wasn’t carrying any hard feelings about his delayed entry to the season.

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan needs to get through Friday’s training to play after having a scan on his knee during the week, with Rory Lobb waiting in the wings.

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