Sunday Herald Sun - - Front Page - SAM ED­MUND

JOHN Wors­fold says Essendon has the per­son­nel to mount a se­ri­ous chal­lenge next sea­son and will spend the sum­mer de­vis­ing ways to close the gap to the top sides.

Wors­fold yes­ter­day stormed through the 20km Up­stream Chal­lenge run to raise money for youth men­tor­ing foun­da­tion Raise, then de­clared his Dons ready to hit the ground run­ning in pre-sea­son.

“I think most peo­ple are say­ing now that our squad looks re­ally strong,” Wors­fold told the Sun­day Her­ald Sun.

“We’ve ad­dressed the ar­eas we needed to over the last two or three years, so I think we’re com­ing to­gether.

“There’s not too much more we need to add to our squad. We need to build the chem­istry now.”

Essendon limped to a 2-6 start this year, but a 10-4 run home, a vir­tu­ally clean bill of health for pre-sea­son and the ad­di­tion of Dy­lan Shiel from Greater West­ern Syd­ney has height­ened ex­cite­ment lev­els.

“I think we can match it with all the good teams. We showed that to­wards the end of this year,” Wors­fold said.

“We’ve still got a gap to close ... and that’s what our hard work is go­ing to be about this pre-sea­son. Other teams will be aim­ing to im­prove as well, so it’s not as easy as just say­ing, ‘We’re bet­ter.’”

The AFL’s raft of new rules and in­ter­pre­ta­tion ad­just­ments will be im­ple­mented in a bid to make the game more con­sis­tently easy on the eye.

Wors­fold said at­trac­tive foot­ball was im­por­tant to him — to a point.

“I’m also con­scious that it de­pends on the strength of what your squad is,” he said.

“We’ve re­cruited some speedy guys and we’ve got a pretty po­tent for­ward line so we should be aim­ing to move the ball fast to our dan­ger­ous for­wards as quickly as pos­si­ble and there­fore try to be a high­scor­ing team.

“We do have to im­prove our team de­fence.

“We’ve been sit­ting around 11th and 12th the last cou­ple of years and that’s not go­ing to cut it if you want to fin­ish high up on the lad­der.

“But I like peo­ple to talk about good games and the buzz af­ter the Grand Fi­nal, the peo­ple I’ve spo­ken to just re­ally en­joyed the game. That’s what Damien Oliver takes his Cup week tally of win­ners to 72 as the 46-year-old rides Or­der of Com­mand to vic­tory at Flem­ing­ton yes­ter­day. Pic­ture: GETTY IM­AGES it’s all about.” Five years af­ter run­ning in the New York Marathon re­sulted in him need­ing knee surgery, Wors­fold knew the 20km Up­stream Chal­lenge would be ex­actly that, but he was happy to hurt for an im­por­tant cause.

“I am pretty pas­sion­ate about youth men­tor­ing. The big­gest is­sue with kids is get­ting them to talk and not try­ing to solve their prob­lems, but just talk­ing about lis­ten­ing to them,” he said.

“Raise do a great job and I thought if I could help a lit­tle bit that would be a good thing.”

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