Cody Weightman is seen during the Western Bulldogs' clash against West Coast in round three, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

AFTER fiercely defending Cody Weightman, Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge will have to find a way to beat Port Adelaide without his newly re-signed attacking livewire.

Weightman, 23, came under media scrutiny following pointed comments from North Melbourne coach Alastair Clarkson about free kicks the forward received in the Bulldogs' win over the Kangaroos.

On Monday, Beveridge mounted a fierce defence of the talented forward on Fox Footy, saying all Weightman's free kicks were valid and urged journalists to "have some respect for the kid".

Weightman has relished the Bulldogs' support and this week extended his contract to the end of 2027.

"Cody plays probably the hardest position on the ground – the small forward role, the challenge of it is never gonna go away and even to survive in that position is tough," Beveridge said on Friday.

"Just in general, the commentary, I mentioned the word respect on a personal level for the players because I think, importantly with the scrutiny that the players are exposed to, through social media and whether people have been drinking or gambling or whatever it may be, it's quite extreme. 


"So for us who are in the game – and I feel like journalists by and large, have good hearts and there's integrity in what they do – have a think about a player in the personal aspect of what they do before you write or say things. 

"I'll always go into protection mode for our players – more from a personal point of view, as much as the player having a professional connection with the club."

In a cruel twist, Weightman, who has kicked 20 goals in nine games, will miss Saturday's game at Adelaide Oval, and potentially longer, through groin soreness.

"It's something he's had before and he did miss some footy last time, actually," Beveridge said.

Cody Weightman celebrates a goal during the match between the Western Bulldogs and Gold Coast at Mars Stadium in round two, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"So we're just hoping that settles and he doesn't miss too much football.

"He's such a good player that you can't totally replace him but you can spread the opportunity around – that's what we're wanting to do with the boys in that forward line."

With defensive rock Liam Jones (knee soreness) missing at least a week, Beveridge has some "peace of mind" after ruck/forward Rory Lobb impressed down back against the Kangaroos.

He confirmed Lobb would again play in defence.

Josh Rotham competes with Rory Lobb during West Coast's clash against the Western Bulldogs in round 23, 2023. Picture: Getty Images

Skipper Marcus Bontempelli has been in ominous form despite battling illness and a back complaint in recent weeks and could go up a gear after a complaint-free week on the track.

Last time Port Adelaide played at home, Power players and coach Ken Hinkley were booed off the ground after a humiliating loss to Brisbane.

"Whatever fallout and whatever they're facing as far as tensions over there, we've just got to narrow our focus into our own domain," Beveridge said.

"We weren't quite at our best last week so we've got to push the envelope a bit on the pitch tomorrow."