…and the Esssendon ssstories continue to roll out. They all know we are going to be the team to watch this year.
Fast, faster, fastest: New Don hits top speed
WITH a team featuring Orazio Fantasia, Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, Travis Colyer, Conor McKenna and Andrew McGrath, Essendon probably wasn’t crying out for more pace at the end of last season.
But when Adam Saad decided he wanted to head home to Victoria after three seasons with Gold Coast, the Bombers put their case forward and landed the 23-year-old.
The former Suns defender has been at his new club for nearly four months, and is claiming the mantle as the fastest there.
“They’re pretty quick – Orazio’s very quick – but I’d say I’m quicker,” Saad told AFL.com.au this week.
Essendon was nearly just as swift to nab the speedy half-back when his name arose as a trade option late last season, giving up its 2018 second-round draft pick to the Suns in exchange for Saad.
Carlton was also interested in adding his run and carry to their list, but Saad, who played for the Calder Cannons in the TAC Cup, believed Essendon was the better fit in his bid to be back in Melbourne closer to family.
“As soon as I spoke to Essendon it felt right, it felt like home, and I really have made the right decision. There was a couple of clubs [interested], but I just had my eyes on Essendon,” he said.
“I was pretty nervous at the start, but as soon as I walked in all the players and staff welcomed me in, so it’s been an easy transition and I’m enjoying being back in Melbourne.”
Saad didn’t always anticipate coming home. He agreed to a two-year deal with the Suns in 2016 that was to take him through to the end of 2018, but found being away from his support network too challenging.
“It’s a tough one because I signed a two-year deal and I had every intention to do the two years and then take it from there, but things happen in life and it got too tough for me in the end, but it was an ongoing thing. I knew towards the end of the season I wanted to come back home,” he said.
Saad played every game for the Suns last year in his most productive AFL season. He comes to Essendon with 48 senior games’ experience, and his arrival at the Bombers will likely free McGrath to spend more time in the midfield after a superb debut season as a small defender.
Coach John Worsfold has given Saad a licence to play to his exhilarating strengths and set up the play out of the backline, at least to an extent.
“It’s about trying to play within the team rules and the way we play at Essendon, but also to play with the flair I’ve got, defend and then run and carry,” Saad said.
“I watched them a couple of times last year and they’ve had Fantasia, and McDonald-Tipungwuti, and the way they run and carry, if I can complement that in the season that would be good.”
Saad is the only one of Essendon’s three off-season trade recruits – alongside Jake Stringer and Devon Smith – to have been selected for Friday night’s AFLX games at Etihad Stadium.
He hopes the sharp, quick nature of the contests will suit his style.
“It’s going to be a fast-paced game,” he said. “We have practiced it during training the past month and we’ve enjoyed it. It’s been part of our training and it’s going to be exciting.”