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Training harder than ever

BTV: Mark Harvey Media Conference - Dec 19 Performance Coach Mark Harvey spoke to the media.

Essendon Football Club performance coach Mark Harvey says the Bombers are training harder than ever before this pre-season.

Harvey said it was partially a result of the side’s disappointing elimination final loss against Sydney where the team was comprehensively beaten in the contest.

“They’ve certainly been put through the bullring,” Harvey said on Tuesday afternoon.

“Our blokes have been training really hard, particularly physically, so they’ll be looking for the break.

“We’ve put a lot more emphasis on our physicality and our pressure.”

Harvey said he was expecting the club’s younger brigade to pick up the load and help drive the squad’s improvement.

“I’d like to think that our first to fourth-year players are the guys that really need to step up now,” he said.

“If this team’s going to go somewhere then those guys are the ones that we’re really looking to to put pressure on the senior guys and hopefully, in the end, make selection quite difficult for everyone.”

As the club’s defence coach, Harvey admitted he won’t be seeing much of 2017 NAB AFL Rising Star winner Andrew McGrath, who has been training predominantly in the midfield.

“He is starting to really excel in the midfield, we’re starting to see his stoppage craft really evolve,” Harvey said.

McGrath spent most of his first season in the back half, but Harvey described McGrath as a “serious talent” who can easily step up into the middle of the ground.

“We saw what he did in his first year, he played with great composure and he is really good in close and makes quick decisions.”

Another Bomber expected to enter the midfield in 2018 is former Bulldog Jake Stringer, and Harvey said he is likely to spend the majority of his time in the middle, while resting at times in the forward line.

“We’re going to train him a fair bit in the midfield and see how that evolves,” Harvey said.

“Obviously if he can get down there with Daniher and Hooker and those sort of guys when he’s resting as a mid, that will hopefully give us a dominant three or four key forwards down there.

Harvey said Stringer’s ability to break out of contested situations has been impressive.

“He’s a big bull and he does move with the intent of trying to get through those difficult situations.”