Essendon key forward Joe Daniher might be playing better in this AFL season than the Bombers’ on-field woes suggest.
The 22-year-old’s form has been criticised in the past few days as the makeshift Essendon team starts to struggle badly.
But the Bombers beg to differ – they have compiled a set of statistics they argue show Daniher is improving compared with last season.
Daniher kicked 34.24 in 22 games last season – so far in 2016 he is slightly down with 15.14 in 11 matches.
But in several other areas, the Bombers say his numbers stack up.
According to Essendon, Daniher’s disposals have improved from 10.4 to 12.5 a game from 2015.
Likewise, marks per game are up from five to 5.8 and his score involvements have improved from 4.8 to 5.2.
Essendon say Daniher’s body weight and gym strength are also up and his work rate during matches, as measured by GPS data, is progressing.
Perhaps most important, Essendon note they have the lowest inside-50 count in the AFL, meaning Daniher is being starved of supply.
His uncle Neale Daniher, the former Essendon captain and Melbourne coach, would not be drawn on the younger Daniher’s form.
“My advice is give no advice,” Neale said.
“I’m good mates with (coach) John Worsfold … he’s doing a good job.
“Big, tall forwards always get a lot of advice.”
Essendon face a massive challenge on Friday night when they face Hawthorn at Etihad Stadium.
At the same venue in 2015 and in the same timeslot, the Hawks were merciless in handing Carlton a record loss.
But Joe is upbeat about taking on the Hawks.
“It’s the second of only two Friday night games (for Essendon) for the year, so it’s another great opportunity to play against the best – that’s what we want,” he said.
“That’s a great chance for our younger players, as well as our senior players, to go out and see where we’re really at.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge and we’re going to take it right up to them.”