JAKE Carlisle was the standout performer during Essendon’s Friday night training session with VFL team Williamstown, which was held under tight security at Tullamarine.
Carlisle, who has only recently returned to training after battling knee tendinitis for much of the pre-season, shone for the Bombers up forward in their modified match simulation against the Seagulls.
Known as ‘Buckets’ to his teammates, Carlisle’s clean hands above his head were impressive as he took numerous marks and kicked at least four goals before sitting out the final two quarters.
The two-hour session featured modified match simulation, with coach James Hird and assistant Nathan Bassett calling the shots as they saw fit, designed to give those 2012-listed Bombers – who are sitting out the club’s NAB Challenge campaign – some much-needed practice under game conditions.
Michael Hibberd’s composure in the back half was also impressive, while Dustin Fletcher was at his typical negating best.
Carlisle, Hibberd and Fletcher were joined by star teammates Jobe Watson, Cale Hooker, Michael Hurley and Tom Bellchambers in the ‘practice match’.
Fellow Bombers David Myers, Ariel Steinberg, Alex Browne, Mark Baguley, Jake Melksham Travis Colyer and Brent Stanton also took part in the session.
A smattering of fans were on hand, while the session was closed to media.
TV cameras, however, parked outside the gates to gain vision of the training session, while Channel 9 even sent their helicopter over the ground early in the session.
The Bombers worked on their setups from defensive and forward stoppages, with Hird or Bassett calling for ball-ups, free kicks or boundary throw-ins at certain points of the intense game.
The players also did some push-ups and simulated wrestling drills in between the six-minute breaks of quarters, while both teams finished the session with two gruelling 400s in persistent rain.
Injured Bombers Dyson Heppell and David Zaharakis were among those watching on from an upstairs balcony.
As reported earlier, Brendon Goddard, Adam Cooney, James Gwilt, Joe Daniher, Patrick Ambrose and Zach Merrett were directed not to take part in the session at the insistence of the AFL after they were not picked in the club’s weakened 26-man line-up to face St Kilda at Morwell on Saturday.
As revealed by AFL.com.au on Wednesday, the Bombers were given permission for four players who were on the Bombers’ 2012 list – Jackson Merrett, Nick O’Brien, Elliott Kavanagh and Lauchlan Dalgleish – to play against the Saints.
A verdict from the AFL’s Anti-Doping Tribunal is expected later this month for the 34 present and former Essendon players given infraction notices for their alleged supplement use during the 2012 season.