DONS KEEN TO CLOSE THE GAP
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.”