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Hird: More to win than emotion

Harry Thring  March 23, 2013 1:08 AM

BTV: Hird post match Essendon coach James Hird speaks to the media following the club's win against Adelaide.
Despite Essendon's tumultuous pre-season, coach James Hird doesn't accept Friday night's 35-point win over Adelaide in Adelaide was emotionally driven.

Hird showed obvious relief as he entered the rooms post-match, hugging Bomber staff before partaking in a hearty rendition of the club's song.

The coach said that to put the win purely down to passion didn't give the players the respect they deserved.

"Emotion only takes you so far," Hird said.

"I didn't find that the players, before the game tonight, were overly emotional … probably our first 10 minutes showed that we maybe kept them a emotionally a bit flatter than perhaps we could have.

"[The win] obviously means a lot to us; every game of football we're playing at the moment [does] because the eyes of the footballing public are on us.

"It'd be too simplistic to say that game was won on emotion because there was a lot of very good football played."

Hird said his side's ability to train hard and prepare for the season under the blinding glare of the spotlight was something to be proud of, adding that his side was far more resilient because of the scrutiny.

"The level of training and the standard of training that the Essendon players have been able to produce through this investigation has been of an elite level," he said.

"I've learnt something about them over the past six weeks that I didn't expect to happen as quickly, and that was their mental resilience and the way they handle adversity.

"You expect that to come over time and when things go wrong, but an event like the one we've had maybe hastened that ability.

"That performance didn't surprise me, but I was very proud of how they played."

Hird said Heath Hocking's shutdown job on star Adelaide midfielder Patrick Dangerfield helped turn the match in Essendon's favour.

Dangerfield looked in ominous touch early, but after Hocking was moved from Scott Thompson to Dangerfield, the 22-year-old failed to have much impact on the game and finished with a low-key 17 disposals.

"I think in the first six or seven minutes Dangerfield had had seven or eight possessions [and] was really hurting us on the outside, and we'd set Heath for Scott Thompson.

"We changed him [onto Dangerfield] about 10 minutes into the game and the game turned with that.

"I thought his game tonight was outstanding, the way he got the ball as well as beat two very good players."

Hird was also impressed with Ben Howlett's four-goal performance as well as the debut of 22-year-old Nick Kommer, who managed 16 touches and a goal.

"It just shows that there's a lot of elite players out there who might be a bit slower developing," said Hird of Kommer.

"All credit to Adrian Dodoro and our recruiting department for finding Nick."