Carlton fans were onto Ryan Crowley as soon as he first touched the ball in Sunday’s AFL pre-season match.
Regardless of the guernsey, the former Fremantle star and new Essendon replacement is always the subject of opposition supporters’ vitriol.
But while that was the same for Crowley, it was not just his team that had changed.
The man who drove opponents to distraction with his tagging at Fremantle is exploring different roles with the Bombers.
He started Sunday’s 10-goal win as an opportunistic forward and when Crowley went into the midfield after half time, it was with much more of a free rein.
That will no doubt change when the need arises, but coach John Worsfold has now said several times that he wants to try Crowley in different roles.
“We’ll have a look at him where he’s not accountable for anyone, which was the second half … but we also want to see what he brings in that forward line,” Worsfold said.
“At this stage we’ll just keep throwing him around – in season, it still may be a real mix.”
Crowley was among four of Essendon’s 10 replacement players who took to the field against the Blues.
Sam Michael, Sam Grimley, Jonathan Simpkin and Crowley all had solid games as Essendon overwhelmed a young Carlton team.
Grimley has a suspect goalkicking action, but he and Joe Daniher worked well as key forwards.
“Neither of them are going to be the target for us – as in just one key target,” Worsfold said.
“They’re both going to be able to play higher and push back to the goalsquare as well.”
Michael worked hard in the ruck, a position Worsfold wants him to make his own.
“He’s not going to finesse too much,” Worsfold said with a grin.
Fellow top-up players Matt Dea and Mark Jamar will probably come into the team for next Saturday’s Shepparton game against Geelong.
But James Polkinghorne has a calf muscle injury, while Nathan Grima, Mathew Stokes and James Kelly are another week away at least from playing.
Youngster Jason Ashby also rolled his ankle in the last quarter of Sunday’s match.