Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has apologised for his stunning outburst at a journalist during a post-game press conference.
Beveridge berated Fox Sports’ Tom Morris for an accurate report about Bulldogs premiership midfielder Lachie Hunter being dropped for the season opener.
After the extraordinary three-minute tirade, in which he labelled Morris a ‘gutter journalist’, Beveridge stormed out of his media conference on Wednesday night.
But after a day of the fiery exchange overshadowing the AFL’s season-opener, which Melbourne won by 26 points, the Bulldogs and Beveridge offered a written apology.
‘I have reflected on my comments and actions from the post-game press conference after last night’s game and acknowledge that my exchange with journalist Tom Morris overstepped the mark,’ Beveridge said.
‘I want to apologise for my behaviour.
‘I want to apologise to Tom Morris and all those present last night and to our members, supporters, partners and the wider football community.
‘I recognised that what I did was not OK.
‘It was not representative of our club culture which is so special and means so much to me.
‘While I was highly emotional in the moments after a difficult loss, it is no excuse to let those emotions spill over and get the better of me.’
During the tirade, Beveridge claimed the reporter had caused tumult at the club.
The Bulldogs’ 2016 premiership coach said Morris wasn’t welcome at the press conference and Beveridge attempted, unsuccessfully, to have him removed.
‘You’ve got the nerve to ask me a question and even be here,’ Beveridge responded to a question from Morris about the pre-game saga around Hunter.
‘You’ve been preying on us and causing turmoil within our football club by declaring our team well before it needs to be declared.
‘Is that the gutter journalist you want to be?
The press conference came to an end so abruptly Beveridge did not even address the fitness of superstar captain Marcus Bontempelli, who was clearly troubled by an ankle injury for most of the second half.
‘All the other stuff was according to plan right from the Sunday and somehow you’ve found out about that again,’ Beveridge said to Morris.
‘We’ve got to get to the bottom of this, obviously we need to put our hand up to say there’s some leakage going on.’
Bulldogs president Kylie Watson-Wheeler said the club could not condone Beveridge’s behaviour.
‘Luke also understands that his conduct in the press conference was not reflective of the values of the Western Bulldogs and has shone a negative light on the club,’ she said.
‘Everyone is entitled to a respectful workplace and we acknowledge the important and sometimes difficult job the football media have to do.
‘Luke is a man of strong integrity who leads with heart and soul, caring deeply for everyone at the Western Bulldogs.
‘His passion crossed a line last night and he is aware of that.’
The club has agreed with the AFL to donate $20,000 to youth mental health charity.
Hunter was named in the Bulldogs’ team on Tuesday night but was demoted to medical sub an hour before Wednesday night’s contest at the MCG.
However, he earned a reprieve into the starting-22 when Norm Smith medallist Jason Johannisen suffered an injury during the warm-up.
The report about Hunter ran on Fox Footy on Monday night, with Beveridge bristling at any questions about his midfielder at his pre-game press conference on Tuesday.
The saga took another twist on Thursday when Morris was stood down by Fox Sports, on a separate matter.
Morris’ employers took the action in the wake of two social media posts that emerged on Thursday and are unrelated to his confrontation with Beveridge.
‘Fox Sports has stood down a reporter pending an investigation regarding an inappropriate audio recording,’ the company said in a statement.
‘While it is not appropriate to comment further, Fox Sports is committed to a workplace where everyone feels safe, respected and valued.’