Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge has conceded the club could have supported star wingman Lachie Hunter more during a tough year, and believes the 25-year-old faces “some challenges in the future”.
Following an incident that allegedly saw Hunter drive his car into several parked vehicles in the street, the midfielder was handed a four game suspension and a $5,000 fine by the club, where he also handed over his vice-captain duties.
Hunter also spent some time away from the game in 2020 due to personal reasons and his fiancee Maddison revealed the couple had decided to stop their attempts at parenthood following five failed rounds of IVF.
Speaking on SEN Breakfast, Beveridge spoke on the fragile topic when asked about Hunter’s life away from football.
“To be honest, it’s a really difficult question to answer, especially on-air,” Beveridge said.
“Let’s be honest – I’m sure Lachie would be OK with me saying – he’s had a disappointing year socially, off the field. He’s had some challenging times dealing with some personal struggles in his life and he hasn’t necessarily managed it too well and he’s needed support that maybe we haven’t given him enough of – and it’s something we need to be sensitive to.
“As you saw when he came back into the fold the second time and played again, he started to have the usual influence on performance. But why I paint that picture and lay a foundation, it’s to say that Lachie’s got some challenges in the future, there’s no doubt about it.
“The long-winded answer of answering whether or not he’s OK, I don’t think he’s where he wants to be quite yet. I think 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, 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.
“He’s going to be OK, but he’s got some challenges on his hands.”
Despite being limited to just 10 games this season, Hunter was one of the league’s best accumulators of the ball.