Keen to avoid a repeat of his side’s Anzac Day disaster, Essendon coach John Worsfold has urged his players to embrace the build-up to Dreamtime at the `G.
The Bombers appeared completely unprepared for the big-game atmosphere against Collingwood in front of a crowd of 85,082 fans at the MCG in round five.
The Pies jumped the Bombers, scoring eight goals to one in the first quarter before going on to inflict their biggest loss of the season at that stage.
Essendon were much more competitive in the second half, even winning the final term, and Worsfold is expecting a better showing from the outset against Richmond on Saturday night.
“The players learnt a lot from the Anzac Day game,” Worsfold told reporters on Tuesday.
“Every opportunity to play in front of big crowds is always great and feeling the tension and excitement of it.
“We had a lot of players playing in their first Anzac Day game and probably didn’t embrace the excitement of it as much … they tried to stay calm.
“We can’t get the players to play a different way for the sake of a first quarter start but just really being switched on and enjoying the running out onto the ground and soaking up the excitement of it all (is important).”
The 17th-placed Bombers are looking to halt a seven-game losing skid and could regain Courtenay Dempsey from a hamstring injury for the match.
Talented youngster Aaron Francis played his first game for Essendon’s reserves at the weekend, but Worsfold hosed down expectations of the sixth overall pick at last year’s draft.
“I haven’t seen any of his game yet, but for that week it was (about) getting through a certain workload,” Worsfold said.
“He’s done that and we’re really keen to see him build on his game fitness over the remainder of the year.
“I don’t have any idea of how long (he’ll play in the VFL). I would guess it would be at least three or four weeks, and maybe longer, depending on the continuity of his training loads.”