Essendon coach John Worsfold says upcoming debutant Tuth Jok’s inclusion for the Bombers’ huge clash with Collingwood on Friday is a just reward for an outstanding work ethic.
Jok’s first season at The Hangar has been interrupted at times by injuries including bone bruising and a concussion suffered in the JLT Community Series, but the 22-year-old has still impressed throughout the year.
Worsfold said he is thrilled to provide the childhood Bombers supporter his first senior opportunity and he expects Jok spend his first AFL game predominantly on the wing.
“For all of the players, we’ve got a few coming back into the line-up, it’s wonderful for them – we need them all playing really well to keep our side strong,” Worsfold said on Thursday.
“For Tuth in particular, he’s had a tough year with some injuries along the way, but his work ethic all the way through has been outstanding and he’s been playing some good footy over the last few weeks in the VFL.
Woosha spills the beans ☕️ pic.twitter.com/vTMwUwPA1i— Essendon FC (@essendonfc) August 22, 2019
“I’m really pleased to have him available and ready to come in and play a role for us.
“He is very versatile; he’s done some good work in the ruck in the past, but he’s played a bit on the wing as well. Most of his time will be on the wing, we would expect, and maybe some time forward.”
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The Bombers will be buoyed by the return of regular first-choice ruckman Tom Bellchambers, particularly in the absence of fellow ruck Zac Clarke (bone stress).
The experienced Don has been on the sidelines since suffering a calf strain against Greater Western Sydney in round 15 and Worsfold is looking forward to having the 30-year-old back at his disposal.
“T-Bell was a big out for us a number of weeks ago and he’s been working really hard to be back and available.
“As our main strike ruckman, it’s always nice to have them back and it will be a great hit-out for him.
“It’s a big job against (Magpies star Brodie) Grundy, we know that, but we know T-Bell will play his role for us.”
Key defender Cale Hooker will also return against Collingwood – replacing last week’s late inclusion Brandon Zerk-Thatcher – having overcome the groin soreness that saw him pulled out from last week’s victory over Fremantle in what Worsfold described as a “good decision”.
“It was a really tight decision last week on whether he was going to play or not. In the end, our thoughts were he may have struggled to get through a full game last week and it’s done him a world of good.”
Young midfielder Dylan Clarke will also line up fresh off the back of extending his contract at The Hangar and Worsfold is pleased to have locked in the promising onballer.
“He’s a great young man and in terms of our younger players, he’s a strong leader within that group and sets a great level of professionalism and dedication for those guys,” he said.
“As we’ve seen this year, he’s been playing a really important role for us in the senior team. It’s great news for us and we’re really pleased to have him back."
Forwards Josh Begley and Jayden Laverde round out the six inclusions and Worsfold is expecting the pair to slot in well, proclaiming they will enter the team “in good touch”.
Joining Zac Clarke on the sidelines this week will be star quartet David Zaharakis (syndesmosis), Dyson Heppell (foot), Orazio Fantasia (hip) and Jake Stringer (soreness).
Worsfold said Zaharakis still holds hope of a return this season, while the latter trio are out of the side with an eye towards the side’s upcoming finals campaign.
“Zaharakis, we know, he’s going to be out for a number of weeks but will be doing everything he can to be available as soon as possible.
“The other three are carrying injuries that we’ve understood over the last couple of weeks and it’s been a real management thing with those guys.
“Unfortunately they’re not available this week, but we’re confident that this will be the best thing for them in terms of looking forward and playing in the finals.”
The club has not ruled out a possible return for David Zaharakis in the 2019 season. (Image: AFL Photos)
There is a very real possibility that Essendon could face Collingwood again in an elimination final in two weeks’ time, but Worsfold said the team won’t be changing its approach as he looks forward to Friday’s game.
“It doesn’t (change our approach), because there’s no guarantee that we’ll be playing Collingwood in a couple of weeks’ time.
“We want to keep working on the style of footy we want to play, we need to just keep jelling that together and that will be our focus.
“It’ll be awesome, it always is playing at the MCG and playing against Collingwood in particular.
“It will be exciting and having a young debutant out there and Brayden Ham playing out on the ‘G for the first time for us, it’s really exciting.”
The first bounce this week is set for 7:50pm.