Beveridge backs Naughton to cope with extra attention

“There’s only so much you can get away with and there’s no doubt that forwards become frustrated with key defensive tactics and being held onto from behind and things like that,” Beveridge said at Whitten Oval before training on Thursday.

“I’m sure the umpires will pick things like that up and you just pay one early and it stops it. But he’ll be fine, he’s got a great temperament and, even as a 19-year-old, he’s big and strong and we’re sure he’ll handle himself all right.

Aaron Naughton starred against Richmond, particularly in the air.Credit:AAP

“Whether it’s Harris Andrews or [Darcy] Gardiner or whoever it may be … they’re going to try and make his life hard. We’ve got to work together. I felt our forwards really helped him last week as well, Billy Gowers and others played sacrificial roles at times, and having a cohesive forward mix is as important as that one individual down there who can take a big grab.”

Beveridge said he didn’t need to chat to Naughton about how to manage the hype and sharp rise in expectations surrounding him following his magnificent performance last week, and was confident the former top 10 draft pick could manage that himself.

“You can’t go up to a player and say, ‘Hey mate, you had a good day [but] there’s every chance it might go south this week’,” Beveridge joked. “All you do is remind Aaron of the important things that enabled him to play well.”

Beveridge said the Dogs’ stunning win over Richmond provided validation for his players that they would reap the rewards if they played well for four quarters.

While he admitted there was an element of frustration at the huge gap between their best and their worst this season, considering they lost to lowly Carlton by seven goals only a couple of weeks ago, he stressed it was important not to dwell on that fact.

“We’ve got to keep looking forward and if the rear vision mirror is too prevalent then it becomes a bit overwhelming that emotion,” he said.

The Bulldogs will be boosted by the return of Matt Suckling for their clash with the Lions this week, providing he gets through training unscathed on Thursday.

The match will be played at Mars Stadium in Ballarat on Saturday and Beveridge said they would be treating the trip like an interstate match, meaning they’ll arrive in the regional Victorian town the night before.

Brisbane, one of the surprise packets of the season, currently sit in the top four as one of only four teams with at least five wins so far this year and Beveridge admitted they posed a big challenge.

“They’ll come down here with a head of steam and a bit of confidence so we’re aware of that and we’ll need to have our edge,” he said.

Ronny Lerner is a Sports reporter for The Age.

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