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Shiel: Freedom fuelling Bombers

Rd 4 | Highlights The Bombers and Lions clash in round four.
Woosha really hands over the reins to the players and lets them take control, and the guys can do some pretty special things.
Dylan Shiel

Essendon midfielder Dylan Shiel says his teammates are relishing the freedom to play an uninhibited, attacking brand of football. 

After recording just 14 goals in a winless two opening rounds, the Bombers have booted a combined 37 goals in their victories over Melbourne and Brisbane. 

Those figures have seen Essendon top the league for points scored in rounds three and four, boasting an attacking half that will only be bolstered by the impending return of Joe Daniher.

But despite the dramatic turnaround, Shiel said nothing had changed all along with the Bombers' training and preparation.

"We were still training really well (during first two rounds), but it’s just been a delayed effect to be able to execute it (game plan) on the field," Shiel told 3AW.

“I’m learning about this team every day, but it seems like the guys play their best footy with freedom and not having things complicated.

“Other clubs are quite rigid with their structure and game plan. The guys here enjoy the freedom to play an exciting brand of footy.

“‘Woosha’ (senior coach John Worsfold) really hands over the reins to the players and lets them take control, and the guys can do some pretty special things.” 


One of the major beneficiaries of Worsfold’s simple approach has been Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti, according to Shiel.

The mercurial small forward was unstoppable for a second consecutive week, starring against the Lions with a career-best seven goals. 

“He’s (McDonald-Tipungwuti) a really good example of playing with freedom,” Shiel said.

“He’s got all the skills and tools at his disposal to play really good footy. When he wasn’t, it wasn’t like he forgot how to use them. It’s more a general mindset and psychology thing heading into a game of footy.

“Woosha sat down with him and had a talk about where he’s at, trying to release the shackles and expectations on his own performances - essentially just letting him play.” 


After collecting nine out of a possible 10 coaches votes against Melbourne, Shiel backed up his round three performance with a commanding outing against the Lions. 

The 26-year-old shared the lead for the Bombers in contested possessions (15), clearances (seven) and tackles (six), with his trademark run and carry a feature. 

He said the synergy with his teammates was building each week. 

“I’m enjoying ‘Bombers footy’ at the moment,” Shiel said. 

“Personally, it’s just learning about each teammate and their game, and just being able to keep building consistency, experiences and minutes with them on the field. 

“That’s helping me in being able to read the play, and knowing when I can and can’t go when we’ve got the footy.”

The Bombers are readying for a blockbuster three rounds, facing North Melbourne on Good Friday, Collingwood on Anzac Day and Geelong in the Country Game in consecutive weeks.

And while Shiel’s still awaiting that elusive first goal in the red and black, surely the No.9’s luck will turn. 

“I’m trying, but I just keep hitting the post,” he laughed.