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Smith ready to hit the scoreboard
Devon Smith is determined to build on his remarkable first season at The Hangar.
Star midfielder Devon Smith says a new system and further improvement of Essendon’s versatile midfield group will allow him to hit the scoreboard more in 2019.
Smith was sensational in his first season at The Hangar last year, claiming the 2018 Crichton Medal in a year in which he was gifted significant opportunities on the ball.
Prior to arriving at the club, Smith said he felt ‘pigeon-holed’ as a small forward at Greater Western Sydney. But encouraging support from Essendon midfield coaches Hayden Skipworth and James Kelly solidified his desire to don the sash.
“I sat down with Hayden Skipworth and James Kelly and they could see a role for me in the midfield and playing forward, which was ultimately what I wanted to do,” Smith said on SEN on Tuesday.
“To their credit, everything that they said (I could do), I was able to do.”
The former Giant exceeded many expectations last year, finishing the season with career-high averages for disposals, clearances, contested possessions and rebound 50s, and recording a club record 153 tackles.
While his 17 goals proved Smith is still more than capable of making his presence felt in the forward line, he says he expects to elevate his game in front of goal this year.
“Something the coaches keep telling me at the moment is not to do too much work and (to) get others who are in front of me to keep running and chasing, rather than to run past three people to chase, so that I can have an impact on the scoreboard,” he said.
“I think we’ll play a bit more of a different system this year that will allow me to do that.”
Midfield depth was one of the club’s key strengths in 2018 as the side ensured regular pairs of fresh legs could be utilised to take advantage of tiring opposing teams.
Smith said the addition of former teammate Dylan Shiel and the natural progression of the side’s young on-ball brigade this year will see the Bombers share the load even more effectively.
“It’s nice having Dyl Shiel come on board, he’ll take a lot of the midfield time up.
“Andy McGrath and these (similar) guys are really coming on in their second, third and fourth years. Darcy Parish, the penny’s dropped for him, he’s working hard and I think he’ll have a great year.
“Kyle Langford, who is a big prospect – I think he could be anything. The boys are joking at the moment calling him ‘Fyfey’ and he’s walking around the club with his chest out.
“I think we’ll probably have eight to 12 players go through the midfield, so there will be times where I’ll be stuck on a wing or up front and I’m more than happy to do that.”
The 25-year-old said he can’t wait to be back playing with Shiel after a spending decade of football by the 2017 All Australian’s side, and Smith claimed the new Bomber’s best is still to come.
“I think the footy world will see actually how good Dylan Shiel is.
“I think he was on par with the best junior I saw. I still don’t think he’■■■■■ his peak, even though he’s an All Australian already. He’s a serious talent.
“It’s good, I don’t have to chase him around (any more). It’s just nice knowing that I know where he runs and he knows where I run.
“Playing 10 years of junior and senior footy together is a treat.”
Smith is set to play some limited game time during Essendon’s first competitive hit-out of the year in Thursday night’s JLT Community Series opener against Carlton at Ikon Park.
The full line-up for the clash will be revealed on Wednesday evening.
You can listen to Smith’s full interview below:
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