Essendon skipper Brendon Goddard has hit back at suggestions his AFL side took Brisbane lightly or were anything but desperate to win last weekend.
The Bombers suffered a 37-point loss at Etihad Stadium in round 18, a result that is likely to ensure they collect both the wooden spoon and a No.1 selection in the draft.
Goddard was forthright when the word tanking came up at Thursday’s press conference.
“It’s just laughable really that we still talk about this,” Goddard said.
“We’re in a position where we’re trying to win games of footy and get better as a footy club.
“It’s something we almost chuckle and laugh at internally when people talk about it across the AFL.”
Bookmakers had installed the Bombers as favourites for the first time this season, during which they have managed a single victory.
Goddard insisted there was no hint of complacency.
“We didn’t put any pressure on ourselves about going into a game as favourites, we approached the game like any other game,” he said.
Essendon’s decision not to tag Daniel Rich has been particularly scrutinised following the defeat but Goddard felt there was nothing unusual about letting the Lions’ playmaker roam free.
“He had a pretty good game and other teams have targeted him,” Goddard said.
“But we felt we could send an attacking small forward to him and be able to expose him at the other end.
“We haven’t tagged this year. We don’t have a tagger.
“People are reading into that more than what they should.”
Meanwhile, the spectre of the anti-doping saga continues to loom large at the club.
The Court of Arbitration for Sport handed bans to 34 players earlier this year, 17 of which were still in the AFL.
Mark Thompson, who coached the club in 2014, suggested on Thursday that impacted players were set to sue the AFL.
“They’ll start to sue … (for) about $50 million probably,” Thompson told radio station Triple M.
“I just know it is going to happen .. I’m not interested in doing it.”
Goddard was tightlipped when asked about Thompson’s claim.
“I didn’t listen to Bomber this morning but we all know it’s an ongoing process with the players, their managers, lawyers and the footy club,” he said.
“I lack information. It’d be naive for me to say anything.”
Goddard has been in recent contact with some of the 12 banned players that are still on the Bombers’ books.
“They obviously had a pretty good break, a few of them will come back now and get stuck back into training,” he said.
“They were training really hard before they left.”