Essendon forwards coach Dan Jordan has praised local products Jake Stringer and Kobe Mutch at the club’s AFL community camp in Bendigo.
The Bombers were put through their paces in the heat on Thursday and interest quickly turned to the talented Dons who cut their teeth at the Bendigo Pioneers.
Stringer – who was born in nearby Maryborough but spent his junior career in Bendigo – has had a near-flawless pre-season having missed just a portion of a single session, and Jordan said he is excited to see what the livewire is capable of in 2020.
“He’s going alright, Jake, he’s had a pretty strong pre-season,” Jordan said.
“He seems to be in a really good spot in terms of his fitness and being able to run and cover the ground.
“We’re really looking forward to getting into this match play phase now and seeing what he can bring to the table at full fitness.
“I’m not sure that I’ll get him for all of the time (as forwards coach), to be honest; he’s a very good midfield clearance player.
“He’ll certainly spend a few minutes forward and hopefully be able to get a few match ups where he might be able to win a few one-on-ones for us.”
A sensational opening year at The Hangar appeared to have Mutch primed for a regular spot in the senior side, but rotten luck on the injury front has curtailed his past two seasons.
But despite those frustrations, the athletic onballer has responded brilliantly this pre-season, once again leading the way on the track.
“Kobe’s going really, really well – he won our time trial a month or so ago. He’s obviously an old (Bendigo) Pioneers boy and played a few games here,” Jordan said.
“He’s coming into his fourth year in the program, which is sort of make or break for Kobe.
“Through a few injuries and a couple of head knocks he hasn’t quite broken through into that senior side, so he’s putting in a really strong pre-season and will certainly be a contender this year.”
The former home of Essendon’s VFL affiliate the Bendigo Bombers, Bendigo is a stronghold for the red and black and Jordan was pleased to see plenty of fans out to support the Dons on Thursday.
“(It is) brilliant, it’s nice and warm up here and we came off a week at Coffs Harbour a couple of weeks ago, so a few of them should be pretty used to the heat.
“We got up here early this morning and there are already a few fans out, so it’s great to see a heap of Bombers out for us.”
With the players set for a three-day break from Saturday to Monday, Jordan said the Bombers were put through a particularly tough session at the picturesque Queen Elizabeth Oval.
“We wanted to get a nice session in. The boys have a little break this weekend, so they were all working pretty hard out there and, particularly in the heat, they’ll get a little extra load because of that.
“Training is done now, the boys will freshen up and get around the community, and hopefully spend another good 24 hours here interacting with everyone who has been fantastic for us so far.”
The Bombers will quickly gear up for the upcoming Marsh Community Series upon their return, with their first game against West Coast on February 27 now less than a fortnight away.