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Dons buoyed by Begley return

BTV: Rd 9 | Team Selection Senior Coach John Worsfold takes us through the team to face Fremantle at Marvel Stadium on Saturday.
He’s been so diligent and focused on getting back, so it’s an exciting day for us all.”
John Worsfold

Essendon coach John Worsfold says he is thrilled to name Josh Begley in his side for the young forward’s first senior game in over a year against Fremantle on Saturday.

Begley has shown remarkable patience and commitment since suffering a devastating ACL injury in last year’s Anzac Day clash and he is set to play a key role at Marvel Stadium as the Dons look to return to their attacking best.

“It’s great, everyone’s really excited,” Worsfold said on Thursday.

“He’s done such a mountain of work, we’ve all watched him from the day he did his knee.

“He’s been so diligent and focused on getting back, so it’s an exciting day for us all.”

Fans have good reason to be excited this week with the long-awaited return of Josh Begley. (Image: AFL Photos)

Begley is part of a three-pronged forward boost, with Joe Daniher and Mark Baguley also returning to the line-up after being rested last week.

Worsfold said he is confident the experienced forwards have been able to recharge their batteries over the short break to come out firing against the Dockers.

“Those decisions (to rest players) are made around the exact information we have at the time and it was the right decision to freshen them up.

“They’ve both recovered really well, so we’re rapt to have them back into the line-up.”


Another Bomber making a long-awaited return to the senior side is versatile defender Ben McNiece, who last took the field in the AFL in round 21 last year.

The 27-year-old has been in outstanding form in the VFL this season and Worsfold said he will be a great addition to the team.

“Ben’s obviously come in and played a few games for us over the last couple of years.

“(He is) a really hard worker for us, he offers us really good speed in the back half and kicks the ball really well, and he’s a strong competitor.

“We just want Benny to come in and bring all of those traits that we’ve seen from him in the past.”

Ben McNiece will play his first senior game of the year against the Dockers on Saturday. (Image: AFL Photos)

Kyle Langford rounds out the five inclusions, joining the side after a strong effort against Casey in the VFL with 25 disposals, six tackles and a goal.

“Kyle’s been in pretty good form, he was a solid contributor last week in the VFL again,” Worsfold said.

“He’s fighting for a spot in our midfield in the senior team and he hasn’t quite been able to nail that spot, but he’s improving all the time - we still see a strong future for him.

“He’s in good form (and that) is the reason he’s back in the side, we know what we’re going to get from him.”

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Focused on the task ahead.

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Star pair Orazio Fantasia and Devon Smith are on the sidelines due to quad and knee injuries respectively, while ruck Zac Clarke, experienced midfielder David Myers and young onballer Brayden Ham have been omitted.

Worsfold offered his explanation for each of the omissions ahead of the huge clash, which could prove pivotal in the great scheme of the season.

“Zac’s obviously out with Joey coming back into the line-up. We just want him to get back, continue to play really good footy and be ready to come into the side as required. I’m sure we’ll look to use Zac down the track.

“Brayden Ham is just a young player. It was a great opportunity for him to be at another big game again like that against Sydney. (We want him to) go back and keep building on the style of footy that we’re seeing him play.

“He’s got some specific areas that we’ll give him to focus on over the next six or eight weeks, whether that’s in the VFL or AFL, but we’re really pleased with what he’s brought to the club.

“‘Myersy’ is well aware that he’s not hitting his best form at the moment and we’re really committed and keen to see him find that form in the VFL."


Worsfold is expecting a tough challenge against Fremantle and he said a major focal point for his side will be taking advantage of its entries by being smarter with the ball heading inside 50 following a string of wayward games.

“We’ve obviously talked a lot about being a bit more efficient when we’re going forward, especially inside our (forward) 50.

“(Our key focus is) trying to create those scoring opportunities with smart ball use and the way we deliver it in there.

“Fremantle is a very good team that will get numbers back hard and then try to go forward hard on the rebound, or they’ll go safe (along the) boundary line and work the ball down the ground that way.

“They’ve got some good marking targets in their line-up now and that’s what we’re looking forward to taking on.”

The game will begin at 7:25pm.