Luke Beveridge wants the Western Bulldogs to be the chameleons of the AFL, and shape-shifting midfielder Jack Macrae could be the best example after continuing his incredible start to the season.
Macrae starred with a career-high 47 disposals as the Bulldogs notched their third straight win on Saturday night, downing Brisbane by 14 points at Etihad Stadium.
Averaging 34 touches per game this season, Macrae is firmly on track for a debut All-Australian berth and has even found himself in the early Brownlow Medal conversation.
Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said Macrae’s ability to rack up possessions was helped by an “unusual” skillset which made him difficult for opponents to read.
“He’s working extremely hard, and I think he’s learnt through stealth how to manage a tag or two,” Beveridge said.
“He’s very dour and strong and tough in close, and that left foot can sometimes be unusual but it can sometimes be quite deadly. And his hands are just elite.
“He’s got a different makeup to some of the other (star midfielders), and I suppose it’s what the opposition need to consider when they’re planning to confine him to a bit less than what he’s doing.”
Beveridge noted that Macrae’s commanding performance had given the Bulldogs freedom to send Marcus Bontempelli forward for most of the game – a move which paid handsome dividends with the stand-in skipper slotting four goals.
Macrae’s dominance has been a key driver for the 13th-placed Bulldogs (four wins, four losses), whose mixed form has made them something of an enigma this season.
“If you look at our profile, it’s very muddling. You’d probably find it hard to figure us out, and I think that’s a good thing,” Beveridge said.
“We’ve been able to score from stoppages in recent times. Tonight we scored a bit more from turnover.
“You’ve got to be a bit of a chameleon and adapt to how the game’s going. I thought players playing lots of different roles at different times really did their absolute best for their teammates.”