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Dons embrace destination status

BTV: The Crichton Panel | Michael Hurley Michael Hurley dropped by The Crichton Panel to chat with Julian de Stoop & Scott Lucas.

Essendon’s two-time All Australian defender Michael Hurley says the interest from rival players in joining the Club shows just how much progress the Bombers have made.

Jake Stringer (Western Bulldogs), Adam Saad (Gold Coast) and Devon Smith (GWS) have expressed a desire to join the Dons.

The Club is in discussions with rival teams to facilitate trades for the trio.

The Bombers returned to the finals in 2017 and unearthed three All Australians (Hurley, Joe Daniher and Zach Merrett) along the way as well as the AFL’s Rising Star (Andrew McGrath).

“It’s a real credit to the Club and to the players to be playing footy that other players want to be a part of,” Hurley said.

“Obviously a few guys have put their hand up and are keen to join us, so hopefully over the next few weeks we can make that happen.

“With the list we have now and the guys we could potentially bring in, competition for spots is going to be very strong.

“There are guys at the moment trying to get ahead in the off-season already which is really great for the Club.” 

The Bombers will need to cover the loss of Jobe Watson, Heath Hocking, Brent Stanton and James Kelly. 

The four players have played 914 AFL games between them. 

“We’ve obviously been very lucky to have such great leaders at the Club and it’s going to be very sad to see them go,” Hurley said.

“For the players around my age – Cale Hooker, Tom Bellchambers, David Zaharakis – it’s probably our time to stand up and really start leading more so than we have in the past.

“We’ve obviously got some fantastic young leaders in Zach (Merrett) and ‘Hep’ (Dyson Heppell) and I think it’s going to be a big collective group of players that drive the Club forward now." 

The Bombers averaged almost 14 goals per game in 2017 to be one of the leading scoring sides in the competition.

There will be a sharp focus on defence during the pre-season as Essendon tries to bridge the gap on the leading teams.

A ten goal second quarter from Sydney ended the Dons season in the Elimination Final.

“It gave us that incentive that we’re probably a little bit off the pace but if we get it right we can be a great team,” Hurley said.

“To finish that way was a bit disappointing but it gives us something to work on and look back on and think we don’t want that to happen again.

“As a Club we found out this year we can score really comfortably, which is probably something in the past we haven’t done.

“But now the focus will shift onto defence … Richmond (in the Grand Final) the way they defended around the football was exceptional and won them the Grand Final.

“The way they bought into the process and the way they executed it was exceptional.”

Hurley expects fellow defenders Martin Gleeson and Conor McKenna to be among the improvers in 2018.

Join the Bombers for the 2018 season here