Essendon recruit Jacob Townsend has plenty to offer in his ninth AFL season.
A member of Richmond’s drought-breaking premiership (2017) , J.J. Liston Trophy winner (2017) and VFL Tigers premiership player (2019), he can lay claim to an impressive resume.
But perhaps the best is still to come for the 26-year-old, with the Bombers grooming him for more time in midfield – the position Greater Western Sydney initially drafted him for in 2011.
Standing at 187cm and weighing 89kg, Townsend is a big-bodied player, renowned for his unwavering effort and brutal toughness.
Despite making a name for himself as a defensive forward during the Tigers' 2017 premiership year, he’s returned to the coalface this pre-season, supplying the likes of Dylan Shiel and Zach Merrett as a bash-and-crash inside midfielder.
That presence at stoppages can only benefit Essendon in 2020, which ranked 12th in stopping opposition sides’ clearances in 2019.
While a host of variables can be attributed to this, one aspect which the Bombers lacked was the ability to apply enough pressure to halt teams from clearing the ball.
Returning to the engine room, Townsend has the physicality and hunger to apply added pressure, boasting a career average of 4.2 tackles a game despite spending most of his time inside 50.
His tackling ability would go a long way into helping the Bombers rise from being ranked 14th in that category last season.
Being one of the Bombers’ bulls is a focus for Townsend in 2020, telling essendonfc.com.au upon his arrival, “I started my career as an inside mid and I think that’s where they (Essendon) see me playing here”.
General manager of list and recruiting Adrian Dodoro was also excited by the possibilities.
“Jacob will provide us with a really hard edge. He is a player that is really combative, and we felt that we needed these attributes in our line-up,” Dodoro said in December.
“Jacob has the ability to apply pressure in our forward line, but we are also confident that he can play inside as a big-bodied midfielder.”
Another string to Townsend’s bow is his goalkicking nous.
In the 2017 AFL season, Townsend ranked second in the competition for goals per game (3.2), kicking 16 in five games.
He also tallied 21 goals in last year’s VFL season as a midfielder-forward.
It’s something which could add another source of scoring for the Bombers, who ranked 11th in 2019 for total points scored.
There’ll be plenty of intrigue around Townsend and his role when Essendon faces West Coast in its Marsh Community Series opener on February 27.
Above everything else though, fans should be excited that the Bombers have added another highly competitive and unrelenting player, who also happened to be an avid childhood Essendon supporter.
TOWNSEND'S CAREER BY THE NUMBERS
Average disposals: 10.15
Brownlow votes: 1