Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has given premiership winner Paul Roos a clip for criticising the club’s handling of rising star Jamarra Ugle-Hagan.
A day after Ugle-Hagan signed a two-year contract extension, keeping him at the Bulldogs until the end of 2024, Beveridge called out Roos for questioning the merits of picking him for his AFL debut in round 17.
Ugle-Hagan was made to wait for his debut after several “interruptions”, including a bad concussion and limited pre-season, and Roos questioned whether he was ready to play AFL football.
“He played against North Melbourne (in the VFL) and a couple of players I spoke to and the coaches said he was terrible,” Roos said in an interview with a football fans website Back to the Bench.
“It’s a really, really, really surprising decision to make, to throw him in out of form.”
Beveridge, who had to deal with questions about Ugle-Hagan weekly before his debut, said the club didn’t hold him back and called premiership-winning coach Roos’ comments “disappointing”.
“We didn’t hold him back per se. I’ve been on record saying that he’s missed some training, he missed a lot of footy last year,” Beveridge said on Friday.
“He had the concussion, he was really playing well against Essendon (in the VFL) and had to come off with injury. He had some interruptions and because he didn’t have the match fitness, we just couldn’t pick him.
“I know Marra said we knew what was best for him to hold him back, but we never set out to hold our players back. We want to give them opportunities and it got to the point where we thought it was time to play him.
“Even then when we played him there was some disappointing comments made by a former senior coach (Roos) who is contracted at another club (North Melbourne) in a consultancy role as to what some of the players and coaches had said to him about Marra’s performance in a scratch match and he shouldn’t have been playing AFL footy.
“I think we know what’s best for our players.”
🖊 Jamarra Ugle-Hagan was already contracted for 2022. He has extended that deal. The No.1 pick has called Whitten Oval home since he was 15 and couldn’t wait to re-sign: https://t.co/4VDyOBi6zH
Beveridge said Ugle-Hagan, who has now played four games and kicked six goals, was just “scratching the surface” of what he could do.
“His recent contributions have been really encouraging,” he said.
“We’re not surprised that he has had his little cameos here and there in games. He’s still not shooting the lights out. It’s going to take some time.
“Each week is still a significant challenge with the key defenders in the competition and guys that stand him
“He’s a young body and a young man who hasn’t done any arduous pre-seasons at all yet. It remains to be seen what happens right at the end of this season for him.
“All he can do is apply himself and he has done that tremendously.”
Fellow young star Cody Weightman has been rested for this Sunday’s clash with Essendon after being “a little bit too sore” having played 11 games in a row.
It comes after the Dogs also rested players including Tom Liberatore and Taylor Durea in recent weeks.
But Beveridge said the player management had happened “organically” and wasn’t too preconceived as his team prepares for a premiership tilt.
“Even the speculation around what we are doing with any intent to manage our whole list … that’s been quite organic this year,” he said.
“We don’t go out with any preconceived idea of how it all should run because none of us are afforded that licence, the game just throws up too many surprises.
“Cody, up until yesterday, he was in line to continue on. But he’s just a little bit too sore, so we thought we’d give him a week off.”
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