Best 22 2019 - Round 1


Saad absolutely qualifies. Number one for running bounces in the league - he gave us a heap of rebound, and his defensive work was very very good too.

McKenna not yet.


It is my opinion that Saad is the best small defender in the league.

He is a ripper, and has an exceptional ability to play both an attacking and defensive role.


Yep. Was very very very good, and certainly in the top handful of small backs.


I want a 2019 plan B thread.


Although I agree that all players should have a equally defensive mindset as they do attacking it isn’t that simple.

Defenders are obviously more defensive due to where they stand on the field and the fact that their direct opponent is generally the one trying to score goals.

But there is nothing to stop a player standing in an offensive position being given a defensive role. Therefore they may be set up differently structurally and given different instructions than other forwards.

If you have six forwards not all six forwards are going to be aiming to kick a goal as their primary function.

Each player on every part of the ground has different instructions.


I agree broadly with what you’re saying.
But I’d be worried if one players instructions included the words - “Whatever you do, don’t kick the ball through the big sticks”


Of course that won’t happen.

But it might be the simple task of standing defensive side of the ball so the opponent doesn’t walk it out like they have for many years at Essendon.

It’s no wonder our midfielders have always trailed opponents through the middle when half backs have always had all the time in the world to make decisions.


How many games played before a player has gained enough experience to be considered reliable / best 22 / consistent performer? 50 games (which equates to 2 and a bit years in the system)? 75?

There are 24 players on the list with 70 games or less experience and that’s not including players who haven’t debuted yet. 8 of the 24 have played 10 or less games, and of those 8, McNiece (10) and probably Long (5) are likely considered fringe.

I understand some of the 24 have been around for a while but Essendon remain short on game experience which has the potential to impact results.

100+ games - TBC (113), Daniher (100), Clarke (101 - not best 22?), Bags (124 - NB22?), Merrett (103), Myers (116), Smith (131), Shiel (135), Stringer (109), Hep (151), Hooker (175), Hurley (160), Zaharakis (187). There’s a heavy reliance on the 11.

Despite games played, it’s reasonable to expect the following players, as part of the best 22, to take the next step in their development … Langford (47), Laverde (30), McGrath (40), Stewart (45), Orazio (60), Parish (55), Francis (10). Oh yeah, and Stringer (109)

Other best 22 players not mentioned … Tippa (66), Saad (70), McKenna (51), McKernan (62), Brown(54).

Others waiting in the wings and deserving of opportunity in the seniors … Begley (8), Clarke (1), Guelfi (15), Mutch (3), Redman (5), Ridley (3), Zerk (0), Mynott (0), Houlihan (0), Draper (0).

All in all, depth looks good but the team are short on experience. Will be interesting to see how that plays out on the field.


It depends entirely on the individual


Of course it doesn’t.

And only on forums are there rules whereby some guys don’t have to put in and tackle.


I agree, but they’re not just going to throw him in the guts. It makes more sense to play him in the forward line when team match up allows it. We’re not always going to want to play 3 defensive forwards. Even with the others rolling through the middle.


Additionally, I think collective experience (playing together as teammates) is important. Our team cohesion is improving, as the lads understand each other’s strengths, weaknesses & playing style. They appear to be a tight-knit group, with growing competition for spots. I reckon they will fly out of the blocks, after the slow start to last season.


Speaking of Lav, does anyone have that link to the site that contained a database of past Essendon games?

I wanna see that tackle on Shane Savage from 2016.


Gone to God mate, … unfortunately . :pensive:


I’m a bit confused about the binary attitude to Tippa and Saad.


*drops to knees



Eight reasons why Essendon can get excited about 2019 season

Chris Cavanagh, Herald Sun

January 5, 2019 5:00pm

A big finish to 2018 followed by the arrival of Dylan Shiel has brought high expectations on Essendon this year.

CHRIS CAVANAGH takes a look how everything is falling into place at the Bombers.



If there was one piece of the puzzle missing from Essendon’s line-up in 2018 it was another proven midfielder. With some handy bookends, the Dons’ backline was strong and the forward line got its job done most weeks but the midfield often came up short. The Bombers won the inside-50 count just 10 times from their 22 games and the clearance count just 11 times. The addition of Greater Western Sydney onballer Dylan Shiel helps bolster both areas significantly. Shiel ranked elite for inside-50s (4.7 a game) and above average for clearances (4.5 a game) at the Giants in 2018, while also averaging 25.9 disposals and 6.3 score involvements. Put simply, the 25-year-old is exactly what the Bombers were looking for.

Dylan Shiel strengthens the Bombers’ midfield. Picture: Michael Klein


If you forget about a horrid opening eight rounds in 2018, Essendon was one of the best teams in the competition. From Rounds 9 to 23, the Bombers went on a 10-4 charge, claiming the scalps of Sydney, Geelong, West Coast and Greater Western Sydney along the way. Intriguingly, only Richmond and Collingwood (both 11-3) performed better in the final 14 rounds. During that period, Essendon also averaged 91 points a game and conceded just 76 points against, giving it a percentage of 120.4. If John Worsfold’s men can take such form into 2019, watch out.


Essendon great Tim Watson questioned midway through last season if the Bombers were more dangerous in attack without Joe Daniher? The answer is no. Daniher played only the first seven games of 2018 before being sidelined with early onset osteitis pubis following a breakout season the previous year in which he kicked 65 goals from 23 games. In 2017, Essendon was ranked best in the competition for scoring once inside 50, doing so from 50.4 per cent of entries. In 2018, the Bombers dropped to seventh in that ranking with a percentage of 45.3, while also kicking 31 fewer goals during the home-and-away season. Daniher is a key pillar in the side’s attack and his return will be very much welcomed.

Joe Daniher’s 2018 campaign ended after seven games. Picture: Getty Images


Champion Data ranks Essendon’s 2019 fixture the sixth-hardest of any side but on paper it doesn’t look that bad. The Bombers face double-up matches against Anzac Day foe Collingwood, Greater Western Sydney, Sydney, North Melbourne and Fremantle. Against those sides last year, Essendon went 4-3, beating all of them once except for the Magpies. There are a number of short breaks early in the season but from Rounds 2 to 13, the Bombers have 10 of 11 games in Melbourne in another fixturing win. That’s not a bad start.


Premiership Bulldog Jake Stringer had his moments in 2018, but he wasn’t quite able to string them together in his first season at Tullamarine. Spending significant time in the midfield early in the year was an experiment that didn’t quite work, the forward line proving to be where he did his best work. He kicked 30 goals from 20 games while also averaging a career-high 14.6 disposals and 3.7 marks. But “The Package” has more to give. Stringer booted three or more goals in seven games but went goalless in seven others. The Bombers will be hoping he can find a little more consistency in his second season at the club.

Aaron Francis emerged late in the season. Picture: AFL Media


There was a lot to like about Aaron Francis’ final five rounds of the 2018 season. The No.6 pick from the 2015 national draft had managed just five AFL games across the 2016 and 2017 seasons and battled some personal issues early last year but returned with a bang late in the season in a new role in defence. Francis averaged 13.2 disposals and 6.4 marks from those final five games, including a stunning Round 23 match against Port Adelaide in which he had 19 disposals and 11 marks (six contested). Francis received a Rising Star nomination in Round 22 and rising the 21-year-old most certainly is.


It’s not just Aaron Francis who impressed in the second half of the season. There are a host of other young Bombers who are also seemingly on the rise. Midfielder Darcy Parish found career-best form after returning from a thumb injury in Round 17, Conor McKenna continues to grow in defence, 2016 No.1 draft pick Andrew McGrath is only getting better, Matt Guelfi showed plenty in his debut season and 2014 draftees Jayden Laverde and Kyle Langford look ready to take the next step. All six players are under 23, proving the Bombers have plenty of young talent in their wings.

Orazio Fantasia provides excitement for the Bombers. Picture: Michael Klein


Livewire small Orazio Fantasia gives Essendon’s forward line a whole different look. In 2017, Fantasia kicked 39 goals from 20 games, while also averaging almost one goal assist a game. In 2018, hamstring injuries restricted his to just 13 matches, in which he kicked 20 goals. At 23, a fully-fit Fantasia is more than capable of producing a 40-plus goal season and providing the Bombers with a major spark in 2019.


The Bombers have built this list nicely and have so much talent coming through, with their under 25 year-olds rating No.1 in the competition. One thing that will surprise people is that Essendon is the second-least experienced side in 2019.


Premiership: $9

Top-8: $1.65

Most losses: $151


2014: 7th (12-1-9, elimination final)

2015: 15th (6-16)

2016: 18th (3-19)

2017: 7th (12-10, elimination final)

2018: 11th (12-10)


Four six-day breaks in the first six rounds is a real concern for me.


my personal top 3 things to be excited about are.

  1. Conor.
  2. raz (imo our most important player, is the link between our midfield and forward line).
  3. midfield winning possession more cleanly in general, our numbers last year weren’t bad, we just butchered the ball a bit too much for my liking and the class added by shiel will help with that. also if raz can play a lot of games too, so 3 is basically raz again.


Difficult to limit it to 3.

  1. Fantasia : As above. I think he has the potential to be our best player.
  2. Daniher : How could you not be hopeful to see this young man at his best.
  3. Sheil : The big Fish

So many more, but those 3 are difficult to go past. Still Francis and Langford who I think have the talent to win games.