Tom Liberatore development rocks AFL fans amid ugly Luke Beveridge fallout at Bulldogs

The superstar Bulldogs player and the AFL club's coach are at the centre of fresh drama.

Tom Liberatore has been ruled out of the AFL "indefinitely" after the latest concussion incident for the Western Bulldogs superstar left fans concerned for his future. Liberatore was accidentally kicked in the head by Conor Nash during the upset loss to Hawthorn that's seen pressure ramped up even further on under-fire coach, Luke Beveridge.

Liberatore had earlier copped a heavy blow to the head from Hawks star Karl Amon during a contest and was then seen stumbling on the field when his head was cut open by Nash’s boot. The Bulldogs lynchpin needed help as he left the field with blood covering his face as a result of the Nash incident.

Pictured left to right, under-fire Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge and AFL superstar Tom Liberatore.
Under-fire Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge will be without AFL superstar Tom Liberatore for an undisclosed period after his latest concussion. Pic: Getty

The scary scenes came in Liberatore's first game back after collapsing on the field during the round six loss to Essendon. The Bulldogs later confirming that his withdrawal from the Hawthorn loss was due to concussion, before releasing a statement on Monday afternoon revealing he would be sidelined for an indefinite period as the club's medical staff and the player plan the best way forward for the superstar.

"Having suffered two concussions within a short space of time, Tom will be unavailable for an indefinite period as the club works through a thorough process before a return-to-play plan is determined," the Bulldogs said. Herald Sun AFL reporter Jon Ralph says Liberatore "has been urged to consider his football future" after suffering a fourth concussion in just 22 games.

He was also ruled out with concussion twice last year after incidents against Fremantle and Hawthorn but it's understood Liberatore is not considering retirement at this stage of his career. Nevertheless, the Liberatore news has left AFL fans saddened and worried for his future, with many praying for a speedy recover for the 31-year-old.

Liberatore's tackle on Hawthorn's Will Day earned him a one-game ban for rough conduct, which is irrelevant considering he's already sidelined for the must-win clash against Richmond on Saturday night. The Dogs' loss to the Hawks left their season on the brink at 3-5 and the future of Beveridge as coach very much still in the firing line.

Bulldogs president Kylie Watson-Wheeler addressed the speculation around Beveridge's future on Monday, pleading with fans to remain patient and reminding them that the coach had a contract until the end of the season. "I think it's too early in the season for us to panic or for us to make rash decisions," Watson-Wheeler told ABC Radio.

Seen here, Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge.
Pressure is mounting on Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge after his side's poor start to the AFL season. Pic: Getty

"But we're always coming together as a club and we're always discussing where we're at. Does the playing group have what they need? Are the right decisions being made? This is not something that you just jump in on when you have a bad loss … these conversations are happening constantly and we're always assessing where we are at as a club."


AFL identities such as Kangaroos dual premiership great David King, St Kilda champion Leigh Montagna and Herald Sun AFL reporter Mark Robinson all agreed that if Beveridge does leave this season, it will be on his own terms rather than being sacked. “It’s always ugly at the end with coaches leaving, there’s no smooth passage,” King said. “I just feel like this club will do the right thing on the way out, if it is to be. I think it’ll be Bevo’s call. It always looks ugly at the end, but it can be done with class and grace.”

Montagna believes Beveridge will "back himself" to be able to turn around the club's fortunes and refresh the playing group. “If he’s still got the energy and desire to coach this team, I don’t think they’ll sack him,” Montagna said. While Robinson said while he's a fan of Beveridge, the AFL 360 co-host questioned on Monday night's show whether Beverridge thinks he can still get the best out of the playing group.

“I think Beveridge will put his head down and say ‘you know what, it’s been great, it’s my 10th year - I’m not getting through (to the playing group)," Robinson said. “Right now, they’ve got Richmond this week - if they lose to Richmond, I fully expect Luke Beveridge to wake up and say ‘right, it’s been great but I’ve got to go.’”

with AAP