Reading the headlines in the EFC website for this article, I could have sworn it said “Preparing for the Worst”, didn’t seem too inappropriate if a little too blunt.
Preparing for the West
Bombers consider options
Ben Guthrie afl.com.au March 5, 2016 6:50 PM
Essendon could make as many as nine changes for its final NAB Challenge duel with West Coast at Domain Stadium in Perth next Sunday.
Promising youngster Jayden Laverde may not be among the omissions, with coach John Worsfold describing the 19-year-old’s left ankle injury during the Bombers’ 87-point loss to Geelong in Shepparton as “not too bad”.
Former premiership Cats James Kelly and Mathew Stokes are likely to make an appearance for the first time this pre-season, while ex-Docker Ryan Crowley is almost certain to be recalled.
“There’s every chance we’d have nine inclusions next week. Most of those guys are going to be very experienced players,” Worsfold said in his post-game media conference.
“But it’s not about putting nine in, we need the guys to play a lot of footy together. Next week’s the first opportunity to bring them out against what I expect will be a quality opposition again.”
Captain Brendon Goddard, David Zaharakis, James Gwilt, Zach Merrett and Darcy Parish are all likely to be included for the Bombers’ trip to Perth.
Worsfold said Laverde would be fit for the opening of the season, if he did not come up against the Eagles.
“The word right now is that Laverde might be right to play next week but if not he’ll be right for the week after that,” Worsfold said.
Worsfold is expecting another tough challenge against last year’s grand finalists, but that doesn’t faze the Essendon coach.
“I’d rather that than playing against another really young team,” he said.
“We need to learn against the best at the moment, we did that today (against Geelong) and we’ll be playing against one of the fancied teams again next week.”
Despite a crushing loss to the Cats, Worsfold was “excited” by patches of play his young side showed.
The Bombers coach singled out second-year youngster Kyle Langford, who went head-to-head with Patrick Dangerfield in the midfield.
“For Langford to play just about a full game opposed to Dangerfield, you can’t buy that experience. He’s unlikely to get that sort of experience again this year,” Worsfold said.
“It’s a great learning curve for him to get that time through the midfield and match up against one of the stars of the game.”
Worsfold was also impressed with rookie Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti’s (known as ‘Walla’ to his teammates) physicality around the football.
Tipungwuti is in line to be promoted to the senior list with the Bombers permitted to upgrade two rookies to the senior list under AFL concessions for their 12 suspended players.
“Some of his ‘never-give-up efforts’ were outstanding,” Worsfold said.
"I’m only measuring him on the ‘Walla’ I saw when I turned up in November.
“What he’s done so far is everything you’d expect of someone given his opportunity. His fitness levels, his preparation has been exactly what I would have hoped for.”