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Worsfold eyes broad progress

Simon Conway  September 11, 2017 6:22 PM

BTV: EF | Every Goal Every Essendon goal from our Elimination Final match against the Swans.

Essendon Coach John Worsfold says the Bombers need to get better ‘all over the ground’ if they’re to match it with the competition’s best sides in 2018.

The Dons 2017 campaign came to an end after a 65-point loss to Sydney in the Elimination Final.

It was a sour end to a season full of promise.

The Bombers set new membership and attendance records, had three players named in the All Australian side, won the Rising Star, ranked fourth in the competition for scoring and won their most games in the home and away season since 2014.

Worsfold said he’d be looking to strengthen each area of the ground in the lead up to next season.

“I think it’s all over the ground, there is not one area we need to get better at,” he told SEN.

“Our forward line only kicked eight goals on the weekend so there is a lot of improvement in there, even though we’ve been a pretty good scoring team throughout the year.

“Our midfield – we’ve definitely got a lot of improvement in there, there is going to be a couple of personnel changes so opportunities for new players to come in and help us build an elite midfield group.

“And then our backline, there is plenty of upgrading to go on in there through the growth of young players. James Kelly retires so there is an opportunity there already and we’ve got a couple of good young players coming through on the list that are looking for opportunities.”

At this point Essendon holds the 11th overall pick in the National Draft and could also look to improve its list via the trade and free agency periods.

The Club has indicated it is in a position to add elite talent to its playing stocks.

“That’s all going to start to ramp up now for us, we’ll get more into looking at the names that are potentially available,” Worsfold said.

“There is not a big list out there – we’ll sift through those and say ‘do they fit into what we’re trying to build’, ‘are they possibly available for us’ because that’s always a challenge as well and we’ll move forward.”

Aaron Francis could also boost the Club’s finals prospects as he prepares to embark on his third AFL pre-season.

The number six pick in the 2015 draft played two senior games this year but Worsfold said he had made progress in understanding the intensity required at AFL level.

“We all know Aaron has got the talent to be a very good AFL player,” he said.

“There is some challenges he’s got in understanding the level you have to be at, at AFL level to be a standout player.

“He’s got the talent to take marks, kick the ball well and really impact games but AFL clubs won’t let you do that just because you’re talented, you’re going to have to work really hard.

“It’s not so much fitness overall, it’s just understanding the intensity of the game non stop.

“He’s been learning that throughout this year and I’m absolutely confident he’s got a lot better understanding of what it’s going to take for him to get there.

“He’s a very young developing player that has got a very bright career ahead of him if he wants it.”

The Bombers will finish the year in eighth position after ending 2016 in 18th spot. 

Worsfold said he’s pleased with the progress made but is focused on ensuring the Club is capable of progressing deep into the finals.

“The biggest positive for this year was the whole Club coming together … it was the next step, we called it Our Comeback Story,” he said.

“It was the next step in pushing everything into the past and saying ‘it’s a fresh start, a fresh Club and we’re moving forward to where we want to get to’.

“We want to be winning finals and aiming to win a premiership and that’s where all of our focus is at the moment.”