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Sanders gets benched twice in blunt message from Western Bulldogs coach

Andrew Mathieson -

Ryley Sanders is only five matches into a potentially great career and his relationship with Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge appears strained at best, in jeopardy at worse.

While the post-game focus after Friday night has been on teammate Tim Liberatore after mysteriously collapsing in the middle of the oval, the highly-touted No.6 pick in last year’s AFL draft was substituted out of match for the second time inside a month.

Bailey Dale replaced Sanders against Essendon midway through the third term after the Palawa man collected just the three kicks and five handballs.

Beveridge told media an hour later that Sanders was on a “steep learning curve”.

The 19-year-old midfielder was observed bluntly venting his frustration in what could best be described as throwing tantrum.

A seething Sanders threw a water bottle once crossing the gates of the boundary line before turning his attention moments later to throwing a towel while sitting on the bench.

“We’ll process it with him post-game,” Beveridge told reporters at the Friday night’s press conference.

“It’s always difficult; not many of us really enjoy the sub factor, especially the subbing out aspect, but it’s a steep learning curve for Sando.

“I mean he’s going to be such an important player for the footy club and he’s learning all the time, and part of that is understanding that, from time to time, he may be that guy that comes off the ground.

“We’ll work through it with him.”

Sanders has assumed one of the five midfielder spots across the Bulldogs’ centre line and has looked ready-made for a long AFL career across his five appearances.

But the Indigenous talent, originally from North Launceston, has now been subbed out twice, having also been benched during the opening round clash against Melbourne despite a standout 15 possessions and seven marks on debut.

A number of irate Bulldogs fans have expressed their frustration with the club’s 2016 premiership coach on Friday night just as they knives have continued to come out for Beveridge over a number of decisions on both substitutions and omissions this year.

Dale was named the substitute after fellow past All Australians Jack Macrae and Caleb Daniel also have started matches this year on the bench or have been dropped.

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan had run out on Marvel Stadium to celebrate his 50th AFL match and Djap Wurrung, Gunditjmara and Noongar man showed numerous moments of sheer brilliance, taking multiple contested marks, including a one-hander going back with the flight.

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