Senior coach John Worsfold says Essendon is embracing the next chapter of an ever-changing 2020, with almost a full list beginning hub life on the Gold Coast.
Forty-two players arrived at their hub in Southport on Monday, preparing to stay in Queensland for at least a month as part of the AFL's plans to keep the season alive.
Worsfold said he was impressed with the buy-in from his charges, who have already had to overcome challenges this year and enter the hub on the back of a 3-1 start to the season.
"We always knew this year was going to throw up various challenges and scenarios. We’ve just been coping with everything that’s happened as quickly as we can, and put as much thought into how we can best prepare our team to play each week with taking everything into account. That included the week where players had to go into home quarantine for three days," Worsfold told Footy Classified.
"We left only five players back in Melbourne – they’re all guys who are coming back from long-term injuries and certainly won’t be pushing for selection over the next five weeks, guys like Jake Stringer, Paddy Ambrose and some young guys who are still a long way off.
"It’s (2020 season) challenging, but we’re enjoying the challenge of stepping up and preparing as well as we can."
In the midst of his fifth and final season at the helm, Worsfold is well-placed to guide the Bombers during their extended period away from home, having experienced it extensively himself.
After playing and coaching at West Coast in his native Perth across 22 seasons, the 51-year-old has often lived without family during his time at Adelaide (coaching director in 2015) and Essendon.
He said the Bombers' coaching succession plan, which will see senior assistant Ben Rutten take the reins in 2021, was proving to be a suitable outcome for the club and himself.
"I’m enjoying it. It was partly through necessity that in all likelihood I was going to struggle to stay in Melbourne much longer than this year. It was a big commitment to make three years ago and it’s getting tougher year on year. I was fairly confident that at the end of this year, unless something drastic changed, I was going to be heading back to Perth," he said.
"It’s a full credit to the Essendon Football Club and (CEO) Xavier Campbell – we’ve worked really openly and honestly with each other from the moment I told him my family was moving back to Perth. We made a commitment to each other that we wouldn’t leave each other short throughout any point in any season, so when we had the discussion last year, this seemed like a really good and honest way to keep the momentum going that the Essendon Football Club is building.
"Ben will no doubt bring some different stuff to the way he wants to manage the team as senior coach. All I’m doing at the moment is letting him learn from some of my thoughts and also opening to his eyes to other possibilities around how things have been done in the past, how they may be done in the future and challenge his views on things. Overall, I’m really enjoying mentoring Ben and Ben is really embracing it."
The Bombers are one of seven clubs domiciled in Queensland, with matches against North Melbourne (Saturday night) and the Western Bulldogs (Friday, July 17) at Metricon Stadium to come before the next fixture announcement.