Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge and (inset) Essendon ruckman Sam Draper. Pictures: AFL Photos

ESSENDON officials have apologised to Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge after Bombers ruckman Sam Draper suggested that key Dogs players would leave the club if Beveridge remained next year.

Draper suggested on a podcast that senior Bulldogs players, including Jack Macrae, Caleb Daniel and Bailey Dale would all depart the club if Beveridge was still coaching the Bulldogs in 2025.   

“I’ve got a big call about the Doggies. If Bevo’s still there, there’ll be some players requesting trades," Draper told Clubby Sports' 200+ podcast before affirming names - including Macrae, Daniel and Dale - suggested by his co-hosts.   

Speaking for the first time since attention was drawn to Draper's remarks, Beveridge said that the Bombers' hierarchy was remorseful for the comments, but he wouldn't be happy if one of his players did a similar thing. 

"We are breaking ground all the time, aren't we? It was bizarre to me," he said.

"I'm not going to say anything about it really because I think the people that became aware of it and are close to him and their football club were extremely alarmed and reached out to me and expressed their apologies. 


"But ultimately, as I've expressed in the past, my number one concern is just our players are taken care of and supported. When something like that happens to me, I can deal with it. It was unusual. 

"We all think certain things at times and with the emotions of the game we are connected to many, many people across the code, but do we express them in the public domain? Normally we don't."

Ruckman Sam Draper warms up before Essendon's clash with Collingwood on Anzac Day, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Beveridge was asked how he would feel if one of his Bulldogs players made similar comments about an opposing coach.

"This is normally one where I’m sure that he (Draper) has had a think about it and maybe he wouldn’t do it again, I’m not sure," he said.

Injured midfielder Bailey Smith, who will miss the rest of the year as he recovers from a knee reconstruction, is out of contract at season's end and has been the subject of trade speculation as he considers his future.

Geelong, Hawthorn and Collingwood are all expected to be suitors for Smith through the season as he weighs his contract call, while the Dogs have made a two-year offer that would take him through to free agency at the end of his eighth year in 2026.


The 23-year-old has been completing some of his rehabilitation away from Whitten Oval and Beveridge said he was spending more time at the club as his fitness improved.  

“The good thing is Bailey is back running on the grass now … feeling pretty good about himself ... and that will help with his peace of mind and feeling really positive about his return," Beveridge said.

"His contact hours have gone right up now that he's back doing a lot more."

- with AAP