Cam Roberts will lead the VFL Bombers against Box Hill on Sunday. (Photo: Essendon FC)

VFL senior assistant and development coach Cameron Roberts will take the reins from senior coach Leigh Tudor when the VFL Bombers return to action against Box Hill at Windy Hill on Sunday.

The elevation will see Roberts go head-to-head with Hawks counterpart Sam Mitchell in his first VFL game at the helm.

Roberts, who is in his second season at Essendon, said he was grateful for the opportunity.

"It's a personal development opportunity. 'Lurker' (Tudor) raised it with me at the start of the year about an opportunity at some point to coach the VFL side," Roberts said.

"Initially we'd penned it in to do the Richmond game at the MCG, but then obviously COVID came about and that put a pause button on the VFL season. Now that it's back this week, I jumped at the chance to jump into the driver's seat and coach the VFL, which is really exciting."


Roberts took an unconventional path to Essendon, arriving at the club in December 2019 after coaching Victorian Amateur Football Association club Melbourne University Blacks.

A former key-position player for Geelong, he featured in 11 games for the Cats across the 1997 and '98 seasons before moving into coaching, a welfare role with the Australian Prostate Centre, and community and game development with AFL Northern Territory.

The 42-year-old has overseen the VFL Bombers' midfield in his time at the NEC Hangar, while also using his football and welfare expertise to guide the first to fourth-year midfielders on the club's senior list.

Roberts said he would be given the autonomy to coach a VFL game in his own right on Sunday.

"Lurker will sit on the bench and I'll be up in the box. Lurker was really keen on giving me the space to coach. He wanted to hand over the reins completely for the entire week, and I really appreciate that. He's given me the autonomy to make decisions on selection and positional stuff," he said.

"Nothing will change in terms of messaging. It will just be a different voice steering those messages, and hopefully I'll bring a level of calmness and direction. I've learnt a lot from Lurker in the season so far, so it will be continuing the work he's done but also putting my own spin on it."

Sunday's clash with Box Hill will mark the Bombers' first VFL game since May 22, with the team in search of its third win in its seventh match of the season.

Roberts said the players had returned in strong shape after Victoria's lockdown put a pause on the season.

"Everyone is super keen to get back to playing. Our VFL-listed boys haven't played for three weeks, but their attitude towards training throughout the week has been super impressive," he said.

"With our AFL-listed boys who will play in the VFL, a lot of those boys haven't played for three weeks as well. A couple of them have been over in Perth with the AFL squad during the COVID lockdown in Melbourne. They've been able to play scrimmage games throughout the last couple of weeks, but getting back to a legitimate game will serve them well and give them the opportunity to continually put their names forward for senior selection."

The VFL Bombers will face Box Hill from 11:05am at Windy Hill, with fans unfortunately not allowed to attend any VFL or VFLW games this weekend. The match will be shown live on Kayo Freebies. Click here to catch all the action.