Essendon coach John Worsfold has urged his players not to dread round one in the wake of Sunday’s 105-point drubbing at the hands of West Coast.
The Bombers rounded off their pre-season with a disappointing 1.23.11 (158) to 0.7.11 (53) defeat in stifling heat at Domain Stadium.
The result followed on from Essendon’s 111-24 loss to Geelong, with their only pre-season triumph coming against a second-string Carlton side last month.
Essendon are short-priced favourites to win this year’s wooden spoon after 12 of their stars were handed season-long bans for doping.
And the Bombers looked every bit a wooden spooner against the Eagles despite fielding a squad that will closely resemble their round-one side.
Worsfold said it was important for his players not to let the result get them down.
“I said to them, ‘Let’s look forward to our next game, you don’t want to start dreading it’,” Worsfold said.
“We are really looking forward to round one of the season – to throw everything into it and see how we go.
“That’s a mental challenge for all of us – to stay really positive and believe we can turn it around if we stick to working really hard.”
The Bombers are set to be bolstered by the inclusion of Ryan Crowley and Matthew Leuenberger against the Suns in round one, while former Kangaroo Nathan Grima is also a chance to play after getting through a VFL practice match.
Worsfold was thrilled with the performance of Mathew Stokes against West Coast, describing the former Cat as “awesome” after he collected 28 disposals in his first appearance of the pre-season.
But Worsfold was the first to admit his team as a whole looked rusty.
“A lot of those blokes haven’t played footy together and you can’t underestimate how important that is,” Worsfold said.
“Teams that have played 50-100 games together, generally across the board you see the understanding you have, and we’re a long way away from having that.”
Bombers forward Joe Daniher appears primed for a breakout season.
The 22-year-old tallied 18 disposals, 10 inside 50s and 1.3 from limited opportunities, and Worsfold is looking forward to seeing Daniher develop even further this year.
“I remember watching his early games, maybe even his first game, watching it live and thinking he’s going to be a great player,” Worsfold said.
“He might have only had six or seven touches that night, but you could see at that raw age how good he was going to be.
“He’s going to be a top-line player for sure.”