Matthew Leuenberger is willing to fight for the No.1 ruck spot at Essendon but it appears he might get the role without having to see off main rival Tom Bellchambers.
The 27-year-old signed with the Bombers as a restricted free agent in search of greater ruck opportunities after a frustrating season at Brisbane where he couldn’t unseat Stefan Martin from the lead role.
Leuenberger told reporters at a training camp in Healesville on Wednesday that he expected to battle Bellchambers for the job but new coach John Worsfold has a more peaceful solution.
“We’ve got Leuenberger and Bellchambers – both capable ruckmen and both can be top-line ruckmen – and Bellchambers has definitely got runs on the board in terms of kicking goals when he’s forward,” Worsfold said.
“So that’s a bonus.
“Shaun McKernan really developed last year and gives us flexibility and depth too.
“Between those three, they could all play in the (same) team or there may only be two of them in the team.
“I think Bellchambers will impact more when he’s up forward than Leuenberger so I would expect that Leuenberger would spend more time in the ruck, but he’s still got to earn that right.”
Leuenberger was squeezed out after 108 games in nine injury-plagued seasons with the Lions.
He played 14 matches in 2015, mostly as a key forward, which placed him in something of a predicament.
“I was playing as a key forward, and unfortunately I don’t really know how to play that position,” Leuenberger admitted.
“I came down here envisaging playing more time in the ruck.
“After having discussions with Brisbane about where I wanted to be and how they saw the team I thought it might be best to see what else might be out there and Essendon were pretty interested.
“I felt it was going to be a good fit and they did too, so here I am.”