Marcus Bontempelli speaks to the media during Captains Day on February 26, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

CAPTAIN Marcus Bontempelli believes changes at the Western Bulldogs have coach Luke Beveridge more connected with his players and better-placed to lead the club forward.

Beveridge's heavily reported tension with football boss Chris Grant, and a change in structure to have the coach reporting to Matt Egan instead, dominated the off-season.

The Bulldogs also had an external review into their football department and have changed up their assistant coaches, hiring Daniel Pratt, Alex Johnson and Jarryn Geary.

Bontempelli has played nine of his 10 seasons under Beveridge and believed tweaks to the football department had allowed him to invest more heavily in his players.

"I've probably noticed, to some extent, more availability for sure," he said.

"He's at different points had a lot on his plate and tried to manage a lot of our programs.


"But I feel like with the new people that have come in, he's definitely been afforded an opportunity to focus on some other things, which I think is great, and I can feel the optimism and the energy and his positivity towards our football season.

"So whether that's been different – it's just been improved is probably my read on it.

"He always was heavily invested, but maybe he just gets a bit more time now to focus centrally on his No.1 role at the football club, which is to coach it really well and obviously connect with our players.

"It feels like he's in a great space and I think we're all going to benefit from that."

Marcus Bontempelli poses for a photo with the premiership cup on Captains Day on February 26, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

When asked if there was friction before the changes, Bontempelli said: "Not that I really noticed, to be honest.

"All the people that we brought in have served a purpose and a role. I feel like structurally things look set up a little bit better than prior.

"We've really advanced our football program, which is a really good thing for all of us as players."

Luke Beveridge looks on during the R24 clash between the Western Bulldogs and Geelong at GMHBA Stadium on August 26, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

Bontempelli noted the club's time away from Whitten Oval amid redevelopment last year had also taken its toll, and more consistency over pre-season had helped as they eye a return to finals.

"We missed out on the finals last year, that's always a bitter pill to swallow, probably for every player who doesn't get a chance to participate. And we're just searching for improvement," he said.

"So I feel like the group's in a pretty good position physically, probably, and mentally.

"Few changes, a few new personalities have come in and really added some things in a short space of time.

"The general optimism at the minute's pretty high about hopefully getting a better start this year than we did last year."