Best 22 2019 - Round 1


In the en-suite?


You have possible spots for our first year recruits, but none of the second year players, like Mynott. Why not?


If my memory serves me correct, we always run with 7 defenders (not counting those who can play in defence as such Guelfi, Heppell, McGrath, etc), so there should be a 7th defender on the bench, imo.

Since Redman and Gleeson are unlikely to be available or fit enough for round 1, I am betting that Ridley and one of Ambrose, Dea, McNiece, and possibly Guelfi will fill in the last two spots (6th & 7th) in defence with Hooker, Francis, Saad McKenna and Hurley clearly locks in the line-up.


Essendon’s best 22 in 2019: Can the Bombers end one of the most unwanted records in the AFL?


Josh Gabelich

![Essendon training at Tullamarine. Dylan Shiel at training today . Pic: Michael Klein]

The last time Essendon won a final was the same year Mark Zuckerberg invented Facebook inside a Harvard dormitory; the same year the final episode of Friends aired; and the year the Olympic Games were held in Athens.

That was in 2004.

14 years on, the Bombers have the longest September drought when it comes to winning a final, with Gold Coast the only other team not to win a final in that time.

But with the ink still drying on Dylan Shiel’s fat six-year deal, a year after the Bombers acquired Jake Stringer, Devon Smith and Adam Saad, the Bombers are expected to not only return to the finals in 2019, but make an impact when the whips are cracking.

John Worsfold will get All-Australian key forward Joe Daniher back into his forward line next year, after the 24-year-old was limited to just seven games in 2018.

Daniher won the best and fairest in 2017 after slotting 65 goals in a breakout season, but was plagued by osteitis pubis this year, forcing Mitch Brown, Shaun McKernan and James Stewart to all play more prominent roles at different times.

While Stringer didn’t explode in his first season in red and black, the former Western Bulldogs premiership star should benefit from having Daniher back on the park.

The addition of Shiel to Essendon’s engine room won’t only increase the number of quality players at the coal face, it will also help free up skipper Dyson Heppell and star midfielder Zach Merrett, who struggled to cope with a tag at different stages this season.


Dylan Shiel was one of the biggest fish to be reeled in during October’s trade period, landing at Essendon in a deal that sent Pick 9 and a future first-round pick to Greater Western Sydney. Despite having a year to run on his contract at the Giants, the star midfielder chose the Bombers over more lucrative offers from Carlton, St Kilda and Hawthorn. It always looked like he was going to return to Melbourne eventually, but now that he is home, he could be in the right environment to go to another level.


While the Bombers will clearly benefit from the inclusion of Shiel, it could limit the opportunities for Kyle Langford , following a year where he took a significant step forward. After all, there is only so much room in the midfield. Langford only managed six senior games in 2017, but played 16 in a breakout 2018. But with Heppell, Merrett, Shiel, Smith and others, Langford’s midfield minutes might dry up, forcing him back to half-forward or maybe out of the best 22


The last five games were all Essendon supporters needed to take a deep sigh of relief. The kid they spent so much on, in a draft sense, finally showed a glimpse of what is to come. After not playing a game since Round 7 last year, Aaron Francis earned another chance in Round 19, where he remained for the rest of the year. He saved his best performance for last, hauling in 11 marks from 19 disposals in a dazzling effort against Port Adelaide. Now, the 21-year-old is well placed to make his mark in 2019, overcoming the homesickness and mental health issues he faced early in his time at the Bombers.


Plenty has happened since Jake Stringer booted 56 goals to be named All-Australian in 2015. He has played in a premiership, moved clubs and been front page news for the wrong reasons. 12 months on from his highly publicised move to the Bombers, the electrifying forward needs an electrifying season to reignite his career. While he still produced a handful of dominant displays, he didn’t do it for long enough in 2018, and will need to next year to keep the critics off his back.


B: Connor McKenna, Cale Hooker, Aaron Francis

HB: Adam Saad, Michael Hurley, Andrew McGrath

C: David Zaharakis, Dylan Shiel, Devon Smith

HF: Kyle Langford, Jake Stringer, Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti

F: Orazio Fantasia, Joe Daniher, Mark Baguley

R: Tom Bellchambers, Zach Merrett, Dyson Heppell

Interchange: David Myers, Darcy Parish, Matt Guelfi, Mitch Brown


I don’t mind that 22. I’ve still got Gleeson and SMack in mine, whereas they have gone with Guelfi and Brown. However the pushing of McGrath and Langford out of the middle is an interesting scenario. You would have to be surprised given the early indications in pre-season… but it is possible.

The only things I don’t like is having a tall on the bench, and what appears to be a lack of an alternative ruck (given I think putting JD in the ruck this year would be criminal).


I’m not sure I like the idea of Stringer and Brown as rotating 2nd tall forward.


Hawthorn, Port and Sydney note. Topping up with good mature players works well when you are on the up. Topping up with too many is a disaster on the way down.


Don’t you just love preseasons and the promise of greener pastures, where ladder predictions and depth of talent are sky high .anyway …


  • Hooker, Hurley, Francis, McKenna, Saad, Redman


  • Daniher, McKernan, Stringer, Fantasia, Tippa, Smith


  • TBC, Merrett, Shiel, Heppell, Zaharakis, Langford


  • Laverde, Myers, Parish, McGrath

Players next picked:

  • Stewart, Bags, Gleeson, Guelfi, Harts, Brown, Ambo, Dea

And next in line after that:

  • Clarke, Long, Ridley, Baguley, Mutch, Draper, Jok, Zerk, Mossie


December 11, 2018 12:00am
Josh Gabelich

B: Connor McKenna, Cale Hooker, Aaron Francis

HB: Adam Saad, Michael Hurley, Andrew McGrath

C: David Zaharakis, Dylan Shiel, Devon Smith

HF: Kyle Langford, Jake Stringer, Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti

F: Orazio Fantasia, Joe Daniher, Mark Baguley

R: Tom Bellchambers, Zach Merrett, Dyson Heppell

Interchange: David Myers, Darcy Parish, Matt Guelfi, Mitch Brown

A fit Gleeson would definately be in the team.
Smack instead of Brown, IMO Smack needs to be in the team, depends also how Clarke performs.
Laverde, Stewart and Begley will all need a good consistent season. Then the fittest and best players would play in finals…if we make finals.
Ambrose is the forgotten man


Random thought for the day : Have we seen Hooker and Francis play in the backline together?


Yes. Both of them clunked all day.


Clunk Brothers.


I cant see us losing a game in 2019.


I can’t see us losing a clunking contest all year.


smack/brown/clarke selection will be interesting…will ZARKE come from nowhere and dominate?


Which game. Francis played the last 5 games this year, but I thought Hooker was forward towards the end of the year as we had so few other options once Smack went down.


First attempt for the new season following the list being completed.

B: McGrath Hurley Francis
HB: McKenna Hooker Saad
C: Zaharakis Heppell Fantasia
HF: Smith Daniher McDonald-Tipungwuti
F: Baguley Mckernan Stringer
Foll: Bellchambers Shiel Merrett
I/C: Myers Langford Parish Laverde
Emergencies - Z.Clarke Gleeson Brown Guelfi


Can’t remember other games, but pretty sure Hooker played back against Port in round 23. Took 8 marks.


Don’t you hate it when you ask a question, and the answer is, “the last game we played”.


Of that period after we lost Smack the only time Hooker went fwd for part of game was in latter stages of Hawks game IIRC

Otherwise he was back with Hurls and Francis