A clear shift in mentality has driven improvement in Essendon’s 2024 pre-season, according to midfielder Will Setterfield. 

After a much-improved 2023 campaign, a disappointing final month of the season saw the Bombers fall out of finals contention, providing strong motivation for the players’ off-seasons. 

Speaking to RSN last Thursday, Setterfield believes the playing group’s frustrations have helped in finding a consistent expectation for performance going forward.


“Obviously, we weren’t happy with the way we finished last year and our inconsistency in the second half of the season. I think that’s created a sense of urgency amongst the group and that’s shown in the off-season and the way we’ve come back,” Setterfield said.  

“This pre-season’s been great, everyone’s just looking to improve each session. The mentality among the whole footy club has been great, I think we’re just excited about what we can build.  

“(The consistency) is something we want to improve on this year, the great teams play well every week and that’s something we’re striving to do. With the way we’re training at the moment, that’ll put us in good stead.” 

After being traded to the Bombers at the end of 2022, Setterfield kicked off his tenure in style last season, locking down an inside midfield spot and averaging 21 disposals per game across the first nine matches.  

An untimely foot injury caused the 25-year-old to miss 13 of the side’s final 14 games, only returning to the fray for the Dons’ final-round loss to the Pies. 

With a fresh run at his second pre-season with the club, Setterfield is confident he can build from his fast start to 2023 and provide himself the best chance to secure an important role in the middle of the park.


“The body’s feeling great. Last year I did the full pre-season and obviously got the stress fracture which caused me to miss the whole second half of the year, which was a bummer,” Setterfield said. 

“I’m excited to do another full pre-season and give myself the best opportunity to perform well for the club this year.”  

While Setterfield has been impressed with the efforts of the wider playing group this pre-season, it’s been the intent of the club’s draftees Nate Caddy, Archie Roberts, Luamon Lual and Vigo Visentini which have stood out in putting pressure on the experienced crop. 

The overall approach to pre-season training has Setterfield and the Bombers building a solid baseline for 2024. 

“I’ve been impressed by the draftees who have come in. Nate, Archie, Luamon and Vigo have shown some great signs and having them compete just puts pressure on the rest of the group,” Setterfield said. 

Sam Durham is one to look out for, he’s having a big pre-season looking fitter and stronger, I think he showed some great glimpses last year of the footy he can play. 

“I think if we have a lot of competition for spots, it’s going to put the team in a great position. We do have a young group and it is exciting with the people we’ve got here.”