AFL's Dogs to offer Hunter more support

Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says the club will offer more support to Lachie Hunter this year.
Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says the club will offer more support to Lachie Hunter this year.

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says the AFL club needs to offer more support to Lachie Hunter in order for the midfielder to get his career and life balance in order.

The 2016 premiership mentor's concession comes on the back of a difficult year for Hunter off the field.

The 25-year-old was stripped of the vice-captaincy and given a four-game ban by the Bulldogs after a drink-driving incident in April and later took a short break from playing duties for personal reasons.

This week, Hunter's fiance Maddison Sullivan-Thorpe revealed the couple had endured five unsuccessful rounds of in vitro fertilisation over the past two years.

"I'm sure Lachie will be ok with me saying that he's had a disappointing year - obviously socially (and) off the field - and he's had some challenging times dealing with some personal struggles in his life," Beveridge told SEN.

"He hasn't necessarily managed it too well and he's needed support that maybe we haven't given him enough of.

"It's something we need to be sensitive to."

Despite his hurdles, Hunter played 10 games for the Bulldogs in 2020 - including the narrow elimination final defeat to St Kilda - and still managed to finish ninth in the club's best-and-fairest award.

A strong pre-season campaign, which begins in January, would leave the 2016 premiership star poised to return to an important midfield role next year.

If ready, Hunter will add to a stacked Bulldogs on-ball division featuring Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae, Tom Liberatore, Bailey Smith, Josh Dunkley and boom recruit Adam Treloar.

However, Beveridge indicated football isn't Hunter's main priority at this point.

"I don't think he's where he wants to be quite yet," Beveridge said.

"Time, application, performance but also that better balance in his life is needed, and that needs to be a long-term thing.

"In the short-term, hopefully we get to the early part of the season and he's settled and he's in the team and he's playing good footy.

"For the longer-term, we hope over the ensuing years that he continues to mature and settle in life and he's going to be ok, but he's got some challenges on his hands."

Hunter has played 138 games for the Bulldogs since being drafted as a father-son selection in 2012.

Australian Associated Press