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Daniher on track for round one

JLT 2 | Corrigan post-game Performance coach Paul Corrigan spoke to the media after our JLT 2 loss to Geelong at GMHBA Stadium.
He’s showing some really good signs at the moment and he’s heading in that right direction for round one.
Paul Corrigan

Essendon performance coach Paul Corrigan says he is confident power forward Joe Daniher will be ready to fire by round one.

The 25-year-old ramped up his preparation for the home and away season with a solid hitout in the club’s final JLT Community Series clash with Geelong on Thursday as the Bombers fell short by 28 points at GMHBA Stadium.

It was an important step forward for Daniher, who was taking part in just his second match since round seven in 2018 after suffering from osteitis pubis, and Corrigan said he was pleased with the tall forward’s recent progress.

“Obviously it was a pretty severe injury that he went through last year, so we’ve taken our time and put a really good plan in place with him,” Corrigan said post-match.

“We’ve been mindful with his training and his loads that if he’s ever pulled up a bit sore that we’ll pull back a bit and not rush him.

“Since Christmas he’s done everything that’s been asked of him, he’s been progressing really well.

“We have indicators that we look at each day with him on how much he can train and what he does and he’s been passing all of that.”

Daniher was held goalless but racked up 90 vital minutes of football on Thursday, which Corrigan said should put him in good stead ahead of the side’s clash with Greater Western Sydney on March 24.

“I was just speaking to him then and he’s said he feels really well.

“It will be important over the next couple of days to see how he pulls up.

“We won’t rush him, we’ve got 17 days until our round one game so we can get some more work into him.

“He’s showing some really good signs at the moment and he’s heading in that right direction for round one.”

The 2017 Crichton Medal winner took some time to work into the contest against the Cats, but free movement and a sensational pack mark in the last quarter showed encouraging signs of further improvement to come.

“It’s like anyone – when a guy is out for 12 months with a knee reconstruction, it takes a while to get back, adjust to the speed of the game, adjust to playing against proper defenders again,” Corrigan said.

“I spoke to him last week and he said he felt a little bit rusty, and he said he felt a little bit better tonight.

“In the last quarter you started to see his movement come back again, he was moving into the ball and he was jumping at the ball again.

“That’s what you want to see from him, they’re his strengths, that’s what’s made him a really good player to date.”

The league’s new zone rules require one forward to stay inside the goalsquare at each centre bounce and the side’s two pre-season clashes have provided only limited opportunities to genuinely test out tactics.

While Daniher is one of the key pillars of Essendon’s exciting forward line, Corrigan – who used said variation will be the key to taking advantage of the rules this year.

“We’ll change it up all the time. There’s so much space there that you can open up.

“You’ve seen how quickly the ball can come out of the centre these days, if you get a clean break you can open up space for those guys.

“We’ll keep trying marking guys there, we’ll keep trying guys with leg speed and different avenues towards goal.

“We’re not set on the type of player that we have there, I leave it to the six forwards to work that out.”

Corrigan confirmed dynamic goalkicker Orazio Fantasia should take his place in the line-up against the Giants in round one after getting through his return unscathed on Thursday.

“He had a corkie last week, we decided not to play him. He was still able to do a session last week and we knew that we’d get 75/80 minutes into him tonight.

“We feel he’s progressing really well. I look after him really closely as his performance coach, so he’s been doing everything that’s asked of him as well.

“Again, he’s got another two and a half weeks now to get more work into him and he’ll be fine for round one.”