There have been plenty of negatives associated with Essendon’s supplements saga, but the form of Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti has proved a major positive.
The man affectionately known as ‘Walla’ has played all but one game for the Bombers this season after being elevated off the rookie list to help make up the numbers once the anti-doping suspensions hit.
He quickly developed cult status amongst Essendon fans playing largely across half-back and his legend grew with an eye-catching two-goal display up forward in last week’s fighting loss to St Kilda.
“He’s been fantastic,” teammate Joe Daniher told Fox Footy’s On The Couch.
“How hard he’s had to work for his opportunity … he’s a credit to himself but he’s also a product of the situation we’re in this year.
“Maybe we wouldn’t have ever (had) the chance to see him play 18 to 20 games this year.”
There’s little doubt the 23-year-old would have struggled to get the same opportunities in a full-strength squad, but he’s also worked hard to get himself in the right physical condition to make the most of his chances.
“He was stocky,” Daniher said of McDonald-Tipungwuti on his arrival at the club.
“He didn’t have the muscles he’s got now and he couldn’t run all day. But now, right until the last quarter, he’s running games out really well. He’s going to be an asset for our footy club for a long time.”