AFL 2024: Luke Beveridge lays out plans for All-Australian Caleb Daniel

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Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has conceded All-Australian star Caleb Daniel could spend a “period of time” in the VFL as his name emerges as a potential target for other clubs.

Daniel, a club best and fairest winner who is contracted for another two seasons on up to $700,000 a year, has played all four AFL games this season but once started as the sub and has also been subbed off on another occasion, with his place in the side no longer as secure as it once was.

As he and fellow All-Australian Jack Macrae fight for game time after years as key members of Beveridge’s outfit, the premiership coach said the team would always come first, and Daniel wouldn’t have it any other way.

“When we think about Caleb and what role he might play week to week, he’s been pretty adept in playing all over the ground. He’s one of those players who doesn’t settle in one area,” Beveridge said on Thursday.

“The team needs have come before Caleb’s to a degree and that’s always hard to process and deal with. He, as you would expect, such a great character and with his integrity, he’ll always put things in accord with what’s best for the team.

“If he plays state league (VFL), maybe there is a period of time he spends there, it just depends on who is playing well in different areas at AFL level and when he gets his claws into the competition again. We have no doubt that will happen.

“There’s no need to do anything at the moment.”

Macrae has played the past two games after missing the opening three rounds due to an interrupted pre-season and Beveridge said Macrae would play against Essendon at Marvel Stadium on Friday night.

But his ongoing place will be determined by “demand and supply” like Daniel.

“That’s as far as performance goes and who is playing critical roles,” he said.

“Like Caleb, Jack will have a significant influence at some stage, and it could be this week.”

Big man Rory Lobb, however, looks destined for a prolonged stint in the VFL amid the emergence of Sam Darcy, who won the AFL Rising Star nomination this week, with Beveridge unwilling to play those two in the same side as talls Tim English, Aaron Naughton and Jamarra Ugle-Hagan.

Beveridge also was quick to put critics of Naughton back in their box after he failed to kick a goal in last week’s narrow loss to Geelong.

“The previous two weeks he was in our best few players,” he said,

“Sometimes who gets on the end of it is just a circumstantial thing and when you are playing sometimes three bigger guys on the ground, the divide and conquer aspect, making sure they don’t get in each other’s way, is important, and Aaron is a really selfless player.

“We don’t judge his games on how many times he puts it between the two big sticks. I’d love him to be kicking more for his own sake but when the team averages over 100 point the last three rounds, no one is happier being a leader and a team player than Aaron Naughton.”

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