With game No.200 a stone’s throw away for star midfielder Dylan Shiel, a healthy list, a positive attitude, and a new and improved game plan has the inside midfielder excited for 2023.

Currently sitting on 199 games, the first game of Shiel’s 12th season will see the 29-year-old notch a double century.

With being a fresh-faced draftee a distant memory and now having welcomed his first-born daughter Sloane in November, life has changed significantly for the poised accumulator.

And Shiel says he is delighted to be on the verge of such a significant milestone.

“Game 200 has crept up pretty quickly, when you reflect on your whole career, you kind of like the idea of staying young and being on the 100 game mark. But I’m just super-super proud to be able to get there,” Shiel told SEN Sportsday.

“It’ll be nice to take my first born out there under the banner, and enjoy the moment with my friends and family, but it’ll be even better if we can get the win, that’s for sure.”


After an off-season of change at the NEC Hangar, Shiel believes new senior coach Brad Scott has had a positive impact on the playing group.

Shiel says the new methods Scott has already introduced to the side will leave its young playing group in good stead.

“We’re trying to improve all aspects of our game, and Brad has got a really good grasp on what the modern game looks like,” Shiel said.

“Having a new coach come in has created a structural shift in almost all parts of our game, the way that we defend, the way that we attack, what we look like as a stoppage group as well, it’s been great. A lot of new learning and a lot of focus on improving all parts of our game.”

“In terms of the talent separation from top to bottom of the ladder, it’s probably not as much as what the public probably think, it’s which teams can connect and execute the game plan.”

With the average age of the side sitting at 23, leaders like Shiel are looking ahead to a strong future of young talent.

“I think we have a really talented young group coming through, players like Archie Perkins and Nik Cox who are entering their third year, have got plenty to offer,” Shiel said.

“I’m really excited to see us get a healthy list and make sure we have our best players out there for most of the year.”

And while a host of Essendon’s senior players have set the tone on the track, Shiel has been impressed by several younger members of the Bombers’ playing list.

Essendon’s pick five Elijah Tsatas is already making waves at training alongside fellow 2021 first-rounder Ben Hobbs, with both receive high praise.

“I’m really liking the look of Elijah. I think he will spend a bit of time through the mid and forward. Ben Hobbs is obviously developing nicely as well,” Shiel said.

“I love the way Elijah goes about hunting the footy, he gets low and right over it, he’s not afraid to cop a knock over the head as well, he’s been really good at getting a few free kicks by putting his head over it, which is always a good sign from a first-year player to get in and get dirty.”

Shiel’s milestone will come when Essendon face Hawthorn in round one at the MCG on Sunday, March 19.