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Hooker's defensive return

RD 4 | Worsfold post-game Coach John Worsfold spoke to the media after our win against Port Adelaide in Round 4.

Redeploying swing man Cale Hooker to defence has “a lot of potential” for Essendon, coach John Worsfold says.

Hooker’s move to the backline to help counter Port Adelaide’s tall attack proved important structurally for the rebounding Bombers in their 22-point win over the previously undefeated Power at Etihad Stadium on Sunday night.

Not only did Hooker have 23 possessions and take eight marks but enabled the Bombers to use a nimbler forward line headlined by Jake Stringer’s four goals and James Stewart’s three.

“It's got a lot of potential to do a lot of things,” Worsfold said of Hooker-in-defence model.

“Hooker can play back for periods, he can swing and go forward at times, as can ‘Hurls’ (Michael Hurley). But it’s early days

“This is the first time we’ve seen an Essendon team with Hooker in the backline and Jake Stringer and James Stewart up forward alongside Joey (Daniher).

“It worked pretty well and it’s got a lot of potential for us.”

Worsfold said he would continue to take a “suck and see” approach to the configuration of the Dons bookends.

“We’re learning about this group, the abilities of it and where it’s going to fit and how it’s best going to function,” he said.

“There’s a few things happening that we’ll keep exploring … We’ll keep measuring what's our best line-up to become a great team.”

A week after producing a performance against the Western Bulldogs that was as poor a performance as Worsfold had seen from his players in his time as coach – a period including the 2016 season when the club was decimated by a raft of suspensions over the supplements saga – he was pleased with his team’s response.

“Last week we talked about the fact it was disappointing (and) our aim was to understand what we expect from each other, and show it,” he said.

“We can't go back to last week and worry about why it didn't happen, but we learnt a lot from (today) …

“It was, ‘Let’s get clear on how we want to play together and let’s bring that.’ So it was a pretty positive week within the club. There was a good feel.

“We can sulk, we can feel the pressure, or we can just look forward to playing the way we want to play …

“We showed that we learn. We responded well to playing below our best last week and we were back a lot closer to our best today.”

Stringer’s best game for his new club drew praise from his coach.

“We feel as though he’s been playing his role reasonably well without dominating games, and we’ve been learning about what he brings to the group,” Worsfold said.

“Today he played his role really well and capitalised to hit the scoreboard, which was really great.”

Worsfold was also pleased with the efforts of young midfielder Zach Merrett, who had been out of sorts after copping a head knock in round one against Adelaide.

Perhaps the only blemish for the Dons was Stewart leaving the field late after appearing to hurt an ankle, however Worsfold was unsure about the extent of the issue.

Key defender Mitch Brown was a late withdrawal with a tight calf but could be available for the Anzac Day clash with Collingwood. Brown’s replacement, Michael Hartley, performed strongly.

Hooker could also come under scrutiny for making late, high contact with Port star Chad Wingard.