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Heppell: Bring on Eagles

ICYMI | Rd 13 Roaming Brian Brian Taylor roams the Essendon rooms after our round 13 win over the Hawks.

Essendon captain Dyson Heppell believes Thursday night's clash with West Coast will be a "great challenge" for his group.

The Bombers are coming off consecutive wins against Carlton and Hawthorn, sitting a game outside the top eight and having conceded the fewest points in the competition since the start of round four.

Heppell said the trip to Optus Stadium to face the reigning premiers would be a big test of the Bombers' credentials.

“Heading over to Perth will be a great challenge for us but we’re ready for it,” Heppell told SEN.

“Every game is big, and Thursday night is a really good opportunity for us. There’s a feeling amongst each other that no matter who we’re playing or where, we’ve just got to play our role and hopefully that will stack up. We’re looking forward to it.”

Ever the leader, Heppell was quick to praise the growth of the Bombers’ younger brigade, with impressive performances from the likes of Darcy Parish, Mason Redman, Dylan Clarke and Kyle Langford over recent weeks. 

“We’ve been building over the last four to six weeks, seeing improvements each week even if the scoreboard hasn’t turned in our favour.

“I think what’s been most pleasing is the development of our younger players. We’re seeing some good consistency from them. And we’re not relying on too few each week. We’re building depth and guys are playing their roles, and there’s belief in our system.

“I feel we can build towards a strong back half of the year and hopefully keep improving as we go.”

The skipper also highlighted the contribution of developing youngster Dylan Clarke, who has negated the influence of Carlton’s Patrick Cripps and Hawthorn’s Jaeger O’Meara in strong back-to-back performances.

“He’ll take some good confidence from the last few games he’s played. He’d been plugging away in the VFL where he got tagged himself.

“As you can see, not only is he stemming the impact of some of the (oppositions’) best players, he’s finding the footy himself. He’s been important for us in recent weeks and he’s still got plenty of work to do, but I reckon we’ve found a little niche for us there.”

After leading West Coast to a premiership as both captain and coach, John Worsfold is set to face off against his old side on Thursday night, with Heppell highlighting the senior coach’s experience and resilience.

“'Woosh' is one of the most resilient blokes I’ve come across, he has a pretty amazing outlook on things.

“He is very measured in how he goes about it. You need perspective, and we absolutely show our support for him. The playing group have his backing too.” 

The Bombers face West Coast on Thursday night at Optus Stadium, with the first bounce at 6:10pm AWST.