Itâ€™s been two decades since Essendonâ€™s last AFL Premiership success. The Bombers may be one of Australiaâ€™s best-known football clubs, sharing the accolade as the most successful VFL/AFL side in Aussie Rules with Carlton, but more recently Essendon have resembled something of an â€˜also-ransâ€™ tag. In the last few years, Richmond have threatened to dominate all before them, but Essendon head coach John Worsfold believes the Bombers have what it takes to return to the top this year.
The 2000 Dee-molition ðŸ”¥
Relive every goal as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of our 16th premiership ðŸ‘‡
â€” Essendon FC (@essendonfc) May 3, 2020
In a recent interview published on Bet365, who offer full coverage of Aussie Rules betting markets and news, Worsfold spoke in positive terms about Essendonâ€™s renewed strength in depth for the 2020 AFL campaign. This is due in no small part to a return to full fitness for some major players for the Bombers, not least their skipper Dyson Heppell, as well as the likes of Joe Daniher, Patrick Ambrose and Cale Hooker.
Furthermore, the rule changes for the 2020 AFL season could play into Essendonâ€™s hands perfectly, according to Worsfold. The rule changes that Worsfold is referring to are the shorter quarters of 16 minutes and the shortened season overall. Worsfold believes that so long as his squad is â€œfit, healthy and availableâ€ there is every chance the â€œtype of seasonâ€ ahead will â€œassistâ€ them as much as any other finals contender. As the contests will be 16 minutes shorter in total, Worsfold believes this will give his teamâ€™s speed merchants a leg up, without being â€œtoo worried about drop-offs late in gamesâ€.
The Bombers are closing in on a full-strength squad
The enforced pause of the early season has also been viewed as a positive by veteran, Cale Hooker, who believes the break has given the Bombersâ€™ injured players a â€œchance to get [their] bodies rightâ€. Hooker has almost been an ever-present in the Essendon squad since 2008 and the 6ft 6â€ powerhouse will know all too well the pain felt by the Bombersâ€™ fans in recent years, watching the likes of Richmond celebrating at the MCG.
Fortunately for Essendon, they have a head coach with a proven track record of winning titles. In 2006, Worsfold bagged the AFL Premiership with former employers West Coast Eagles. Achieving Premiership success with Essendon this year would be somewhat poetic for Worsfold given that this will be his final year in charge of the Bombers. It was confirmed earlier in the year that Worsfold would be handing the reins to Ben Rutten for the 2021 campaign.
Worsfold is philosophical about his Essendon career and has refused to rule out the prospect of staying at the club in some capacity. Ever the professional, Worsfold will be keen to ensure the spotlight remains on the field rather than him. The Bombers sure have their work cut out to improve upon their eighth-placed finish last term, which saw them comfortably eliminated in the first round of the finals by Worsfoldâ€™s former employers, West Coast. Worsfold acknowledges that his troops have â€œa bit of work to do to prove [they are] worthy of being seen as a top-four teamâ€, but if they can squeak into the finals again this year theyâ€™ll have as good a chance as any in the shortened format.