VFL season preview
AFL Victoria March 19, 2018 3:05 PM
The staff writers at AFL Victoria have delved into Essendon’s VFL side in a comprehensive preview of the season to come.
We talk to new Essendon VFL senior coach Dan Jordan about the team’s upcoming Peter Jackson VFL season.
2017 FINISH: 7th (10-9)
2017 BEST AND FAIREST: 1. Heath Hocking / 2. Kobe Mutch / 3. Nick O’Brien
2017 TEAM OF THE YEAR: Alex Boyse
FORMER PLAYERS CURRENTLY ON AFL LISTS:
Selected from club in 2013: Patrick Ambrose* (Essendon)
2015: Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti* (Essendon)
2016: Ben McNiece* (Essendon)
2018 SEASON START: vs Frankston (Saturday April 7) / vs Williamstown (Saturday April 14) / vs Collingwood (Saturday April 21)
Nick O’Brien (59 VFL games for club in 2013-15 and 2017): “Nick was our captain last year and he had a good influence on our group. He was proven at VFL level and players of his calibre are hard to replace. He’s decided to ply his trade with a bit of assistant coaching at local level with Strathmore."
Heath Hocking (from Essendon AFL): “We targeted Heath as the sort of character we wanted to stay around the club and help develop our VFL group. He’ll bring a wealth of experience and knowledge and he can play a number of roles on the field. Ideally we’d like to run him through the midfield and a little bit forward.”
Nick Dixon (Old Collegians): “Nick played VFL footy with Geelong and Port Melbourne when he was a teenager and then had a year of senior footy in the VAFA. He’s really impressed everyone at the club. He’s a bit light in stature but very tenacious around the ball and pretty clean in traffic.”
Jamieson Sheahan (Strathfieldsaye): “Jamieson was probably stiff not to get drafted a couple of years ago (from Bendigo Pioneers) and he played really well in a Bendigo FL premiership win last year. He’s finding his way back into it after a few injury issues around Christmas.”
Joe Harrison (Monash Blues): “Joe won Monash’s best-and-fairest in the VAFA as a 19-year-old last year. He’s a big-bodied midfielder who can play forward as well. He’s had a really good pre-season.”
“Guys like Danny Younan, Nick Hind and Sam Hooper are really driving the standards and getting themselves into great physical condition, and they’ve also been great teachers for our new guys in terms of what’s expected and the preparation you need to put in. I’m looking at them to take the next step towards being good consistent players at VFL level.”
“Heath Hocking will be our captain with our vice-captain to be Aaron Heppell, who has four years of experience in our system. Two second-year guys at our club, Danny Younan and Nick Hind, will be deputy vice-captains and James Ferry and Sam Hooper round out our leaders.”
“Heath Hocking is our best and fairest from last year and you’d imagine he’d be up there again while Alex Boyse made last year’s VFL Team of the Year as a goalkicking forward. Aaron Heppell was in the Team of the Year in 2016 and then had a knee injury for half of last year; he’s had a strong pre-season and we’d love to see him return to his best form. James Ferryand Nick Hind should also be up there."
Kieran Strachan: “Kieran played two games last year as a ruckman and got a bit of attention from AFL recruiters. He could be one of the top VFL ruckmen if we can give him more opportunities on the field.”
Joel Ottavi: “Joel continues to develop as a key forward and he’s starting to really fill out and provide a presence on the field. He only played three VFL games in his first year on the list in 2017 and will certainly be pushing for more.”
WHAT TO EXPECT
“In terms of our VFL group, we’ve probably gone for a little bit more speed this year. We think that’s where the game’s going – moving the ball a bit quicker on the outside. We’re also working hard to be more skilful and fix up our ball use, which we think were probably areas where we were a bit off last year.”
ASSISTANT COACHING PANEL
Backs assistant coach: Wayne Schultz (retained from 2017)
Midfield assistant coach: Ben Patrick (from Werribee VFL)
Forwards assistant coach: Nick Daffy (from North Ballarat VFL)