Senior coach-in-waiting Ben Rutten believes Essendon is raring to go, a fortnight out from the restart of AFL season.
It’s been 10 weeks since the Bombers' round one victory over Fremantle, but Rutten said the players had returned from the COVID-19 lockdown with vigour as they prepare to face Sydney in round two on June 14.
“It’s been fantastic to have the boys back. The players have come back in great physical shape, but also their mental state too. They’re really looking forward to attacking this next little part of the season,” Rutten told Fox Footy Live on Wednesday.
“We’ve had our first (full contact) session (earlier this week) and we had about 40-odd players on the track which was great. There was plenty of energy and the boys looked like they picked up where they left off.”
All 18 clubs are under strict quarantine rules, regularly meeting in small groups instead of hosting larger team meetings.
“It’s been difficult, we haven’t had full team meetings at the club because the boys are in their small groups at the moment due to the restrictions. It’s been a bit different but as coaches we’re making sure we check in and get around to the players," he said.
“On the whole, we just want to make sure that the guys are really looking forward to cracking into it and in some cases, we actually have to hold them back.”
With Essendon’s well-documented senior coaching transition set to take effect at the end of the 2020 season, Rutten said he was in constant communication with John Worsfold during the recent, enforced break.
“During the break, we obviously didn’t get the face-to-face contact as we had in the pre-season together but it gave us space to focus on broader coaching topics and I’ve been able to pick his brains more about broader roles of the coach and coaching (philosophies) so we’ve used the time really productively.
“Coaches have had downtime, but like anyone in competitive sport, we’re all learners so it’s been beneficial to continue to learn during this period too.”