Toby McLean during the round six match between Fremantle and Western Bulldogs at Optus Stadium, April 21, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

PREMIERSHIP Bulldog Toby McLean has made a return to Whitten Oval, appointed midfield coach for the club's AFLW side.

Fan favourite McLean played 102 games for the Bulldogs between 2015 and 2023, tearing his ACL twice over that period.

The 28-year-old joins a near-completely overhauled coaching panel under new senior leader Tam Hyett.

Backline coach Matt Skubis is effectively the only remaining figure from last year's one-win season.

Hyett has brought in a number of familiar faces from her days at Melbourne, including forwards coach Ben Friggi (ex-Casey VFLW assistant) and specialist coach Peter Mercoulia (ex-Demons AFLW assistant, VFLW senior coach).

Bulldogs men's assistant coach Brendon Lade will serve as director of coaching for the women's program, having previously also worked with St Kilda's women's program in his time there.

Brendon Lade during the round 12 match between Collingwood and Adelaide at the MCG, May 31, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Respected tackle coach Malcolm Bangs will join Mercoulia as a specialist coach, while as previously reported by, men's player Rory Lobb will work as a mentor.

Heading up the program is new general manager of women's football, Patrice Berthold, with Dan Fisher appointed list and recruiting manager, and Georgia Stewart the team's new player welfare manager.

"We’re extremely pleased with the calibre of people we’ve been able to bring into our program this season, particularly in the coaching space," Berthold said.

The Western Bulldogs AFLW coaching panel, Whitten Oval, July 9, 2024. Picture- Western Bulldogs

"Both Toby and Ben have hit the ground running with their respective line groups, while we’re excited to see the team’s improvements from a strategy, contest and tackling perspective via Peter and Malcolm.

"We are confident all of these appointments will complement both Tam and Matt, while helping continue to develop our playing group as we strive for success in 2024 and beyond."

Last year's coaches Kate McCarthy, Shaun Campbell and Josh Bruce have left the club.

The Bulldogs will also have a different-looking player leadership group, given the departure of vice-captains Kirsty Lamb (Port Adelaide) and Bailey Hunt (delisted), while leadership group member Gabby Newton has moved to Fremantle.