Luke Beveridge during the Western Bulldogs' game against Geelong in Gather Round, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

COACH Luke Beveridge insists the Western Bulldogs can still contend, while dismissing speculation of discontent at the club as "a tale of fiction".

The Bulldogs sit at 2-3 after their disappointing 29-point defeat to Essendon on Friday night.

The club has been criticised for perceived mixed messaging, with Beveridge asked whether the Bulldogs were rebuilding on the run or contending.


"If it came across as mixed, it wasn't intended to be mixed," he said on Tuesday.

"I've never been a coach that has tried to leverage for time, I've always been a coach for the now and I believe in our group and we're trying to make every post a winner and establish ourselves to get ready again.

"So each week trying to win the game is absolutely important and critical. That's what we're after."


Beveridge has come under fire for some selection decisions, including dropping Jack Macrae, Caleb Daniel and Rory Lobb, plus demoting Bailey Dale to the substitute role against the Bombers.

He has backed youngsters Ryley Sanders, Harvey Gallagher and Sam Darcy and ex-Hawk Lachlan Bramble.

But Beveridge pointed to the Bulldogs dipping after their 2016 premiership, then recovering to reach the 2021 Grand Final, and indicated they were attempting to "re-emerge" rather than entering a full-on rebuild.

"The rebuilding term is a myth," he said.

Ryley Sanders in action during round five, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"You cannot rebuild in our code in a competition with the constraints that exist in the draft and the salary cap. You can't do it.

"Because rebuilding infers that you're knocking something down and it's coming from the ground up, from a new origin, and you just can't do that.

"So what you're seeing with us at the moment is some experienced players here and there not getting a game due to form or there's a preference that some guys have just pushed for selection that deserve a game in front of them.

"That puts pressure on some of those experienced lads to find their best and then it creates opportunity for the guys who are going to be important for our future."

Jack Macrae evades Darcy Parish during round five, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Beveridge insisted the club was a "really healthy environment" and rejected the suggestion there was disharmony or discontent.

"Well I can only speak on what's happening here and it's a tale of fiction," he said.

"But the senior boys who have missed out, they get it and they understand it. Their attitude's been unbelievable."

Ahead of Thursday's clash with St Kilda, Beveridge was asked whether he felt his group could still contend while rejuvenating.

"Yeah, absolutely," he said.

Western Bulldogs players look dejected after their loss to Essendon in round five, 2024. Picture: Getty Images

"I mean, it's round five. And we'd like to be one or two ahead of where we are, but it's really early.

"But our challenge is to string them together. It's to win and then create some momentum on the stretch as far as the wins go.

"But initially we've got to focus on the Saints this week to get that done. They work extremely hard, the Saints, and we've got to be up for the fight."