Main content

A good space

BTV: John Worsfold Post Match - April 16, 2016 John Worsfold talks to the media after the loss to the Cats.
Matthew Leuenberger has started well since moving to the Bombers

Matthew Leuenberger feels rejuvenated after moving to Essendon, saying he is now in a "far better headspace". 

Leuenberger moved to Essendon from the Brisbane Lions as a restricted free agent last October, having played 108 games in nine seasons at the Gabba.

The ruckman suffered his share of injuries at the Lions and had a delayed start to his first pre-season at Tullamarine because of a lingering Achilles tendon injury. 

But the No.4 pick in the 2006 NAB AFL Draft reached the starting line in time for Essendon's round one clash against Gold Coast and has since ably shouldered the Bombers' ruck duties.

In Essendon's 30-point loss to Geelong at the MCG on Saturday, Leuenberger had the better Zac Smith and Rhys Stanley at the ruck contests, winning 25 hit-outs to his Cats counterparts' combined tally of 20. 

Leuenberger also won a season-high 16 possessions and drifted forward to hit the scoreboard for the first time this season, but unfortunately registered two behinds.

It was a performance that augured well for the rest of the season. 

"The body's feeling good. I had a bit of an injury-interrupted pre-season, but I think I'm out of the woods a bit with the Achilles," Leuenberger told after Saturday's game.

"Even with everything that's gone on, I'm in a far better headspace now than I was this time last year.

"I just feel rejuvenated and excited by something new after about nine years up in Queensland."

Leuenberger said the spirit among Essendon's playing group had been remarkable since the season-long suspension of 12 players on anti-doping charges had forced the club to bring in 10 'top-up' players.

The former Lion said the short time the Essendon group had been together ahead of the 2016 season meant there would be inevitable inconsistencies in their performances.

"We've had players joining our list in the back end of January, so we're still sort of figuring one another out," Leuenberger said. 

"I think in that time when we're still figuring one another out there's going to be inconsistencies in the way that we play.

"So we've just got to continue training and continue rocking up on game day and hopefully in a couple of weeks it all begins to gel and we can shake it up a bit." 

But while the Bombers might have form swings like the one that saw them record a stirring win over Melbourne in round two and follow it up with a flat effort against Port Adelaide a week later, Leuenberger says they will always expect the type of effort they brought against Geelong on Saturday. 

Essendon's work rate against the Cats was hard to fault. It won the possession count 424-359, handball receives 167-133 and, remarkably against a Geelong midfield headed by Joel Selwood and Patrick Dangerfield, clearances 42-23. 

"The effort is what we speak about as being a non-negotiable. So every week that's our primary focus, just ripping in and having a crack," Leuenberger said.

"If we do that then anything can happen, like we saw in round two.

"That's what we're all about at the moment … contested ball, tackling, just the basics of the game, and effort and desire."