Essendon coach John Worsfold is looking at how to stop the Bombers’ third-quarter fade-outs.Essendon admit they’re reviewing how to handle halftime in an attempt to phase out their third-term AFL fade-outs.
It’s far from the only issue on Bombers coach John Worsfold’s plate after a 2-4 start to the season.
But going into a blockbuster MCG meeting with Hawthorn on Saturday, it’s a nut Worsfold is eager to crack.
“We’ve looked at what our program is (and) we’ve challenged each other to think of how it could be different,” he said on Friday.
“We’ll potentially do a couple of minor changes otherwise it’s just getting out there with a mindset to play strong footy.
“Certainly we’re aware we haven’t won a third quarter but we’ve lost a lot of other quarters as well.”
On that point, Worsfold is right.
Only Brisbane (six) have won fewer quarters than Essendon (seven) this season.
That won’t force Worsfold into changing from the club’s bigger-picture approach, where the club toys with positions in attempt to build for the future.
“We’ve got to work out what squad here, what playing team is going to be good enough to win a premiership at the Essendon footy club,” he said.
“We’ve got to keep exploring and finding that.
“That will mean looking at some new players and giving new players like (Adam) Saad and (Jake) Stringer the chance to grow into our team.
“(We have) an absolute focus on becoming a great team. We don’t want to panic and pick teams with a weekly focus.”
Essendon’s approach to team selection this week is influenced by their four-day break last week, when they lost to Collingwood and Melbourne.
Matt Guelfi and Jackson Merrett have been rested, with Conor McKenna and David Myers coming in.
Matthew Leuenberger’s suspension also allows Tom Bellchambers to return.
Worsfold said Orazio Fantasia was “very close” to a return and would play a half in the VFL in an attempt to return in round eight.
Travis Colyer looms as a round nine return.
Opponents Hawthorn have made two changes, with David Mirra and James Cousins dropped for James Sicily and Liam Shiels.
The Bombers and Hawks last met in round one last season, when Essendon returned a host of banned Bombers in a 25-point win at the MCG.
Despite that, Worsfold played down the traditionally strong rivalry between the two teams, which has been on the wane since the 2004 “line in the sand” contest.
“Essendon-Hawthorn. Essendon-Collingwood. The marshmallow game. The country game … Dreamtime … the Jacket wave game. We’ve pretty much got a rivalry with every club,” he said.
“(ex-coach Kevin) Sheedy created a few of those.”