Marcus Bontempelli after the Western Bulldogs' loss to West Coast in round 23, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

WESTERN Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge hasn't felt the need to mention last year's devastating loss to West Coast in the build-up to their round three encounter with the same foe.

A stigma, he believes, lingers in his players' minds and will drive the Bulldogs at Marvel Stadium on Sunday as they seek to enter positive win-loss territory for the first time this season.

Beveridge's men are yet to completely move on from the seven-point defeat to the wooden-spoon Eagles in round 23 last year, which ultimately cost the Dogs a finals spot.

The Bulldogs beat Geelong the following week, but missed the top eight by half a game.

"It left a pretty bad taste in everyone's mouth," Beveridge told reporters on Friday morning.

"They were pretty good that day, the Eagles, but equally we lowered our colours in an important game on our journey last year.


"In preparation for this game, we haven't even talked about it, but I just know that it's in the players' subconscious.

"The guys who did (play in that game), I know they'll be feeling that there's a stigma attached to what happened last year.

"I think there'll be some kind of response there."

Beveridge confirmed triple All-Australian midfielder Jack Macrae will return against West Coast after his monster game in the VFL last week.

Macrae had 47 disposals and 17 clearances against the Giants and will return in a midfield role, with the Bulldogs losing Ed Richards (concussion) and Nick Coffield (shoulder) to injuries.

Beveridge said Macrae will be in the starting 22, rather than filling the substitute role, after a delayed start to the season because of a hamstring injury and loading issue with his femur.


"He trained extremely hard in the off-season - he worked himself a bit too hard - and it was just a matter of getting his match practice up to a stage where he's totally ready at AFL level," Beveridge said.

"Off last week's performance, we believe he is ready to come in. It's as simple as that."

The Bulldogs (1-1) are looking to build on their win over Gold Coast in Ballarat when they run out on their regular home ground for the first time this season on Sunday.

They can't afford to be complacent against a West Coast outfit that sits in familiar territory - bottom of the ladder after successive defeats to open the new campaign, with a percentage of less than 50.