Michael Hurley says captain Dyson Heppell’s "positive" leadership came to the fore as Essendon got its season back on track at the weekend.
Coming off consecutive heavy defeats to Port Adelaide and the Western Bulldogs, the Bombers could ill-afford anything less than a strong response in enemy territory against Fremantle.
But with their backs against the wall, they bounced back with a 32-point win at Optus Stadium on Saturday night, securing a finals berth in the process.
Hurley said Heppell’s influence was felt once again.
“You are hard pressed to get Dyson sad. He is one of the happiest blokes I have ever met and can turn anything into a positive,” Hurley told SEN 1116.
“Having him lead us and bringing that energy, he is a player that really lifts the spirit of the group.”
Skipper Dyson Heppell rallies his teammates on Saturday night. (Photo: AFL Photos)
Hurley, who starred against the Dockers after a four-game injury layoff, said the players enjoyed travelling to Perth, using the trip as an opportunity to unite.
“I think it’s always good, when the back is against the wall, to go away together.
“We spent some time away from the club during the week as well, enjoying each other’s company away from the footy club.
“I think the trip over to the West is one of the toughest ones in football so to be able to go over there and get the win, brings a lot of confidence to the boys.
“It was really pleasing that the boys cracked in and showed that energy and intent in the lead-up, (and) it really came out in our game.”
Essendon faces fierce rival Collingwood in what is set to be a blockbuster at the MCG on Friday night.
The Bombers are sitting in seventh position on the ladder while the Pies are fifth, with both clubs looking for a win in their last game of the home-and-away season.
Hurley said the Bombers were looking forward to the challenge.
“Both clubs are positioned well and there is a build-up to the finals series, so Friday night will be a really big test for us.
“We had a good win over in the West but with a short turnaround and coming off travel is another challenge for us. We are really looking forward to having a crack at the Pies.”