Essendon coach James Hird has taken a more defiant approach to the AFL club’s doping crisis, saying they will fight for their reputation.
Earlier this week, Bombers assistant coach Mark Thompson admitted the controversy had left him feeling embarrassed.
But Hird vowed on Friday that Essendon would not let the situation overwhelm them.
“Our footy club is going to fight to prove where we’re at and we’re not walking around with our heads bowed,” Hird said.
“We’re walking around proud of our footy club.”
Essendon are under an anti-doping investigation after they went to the league with concerns about supplements their players took last season.
Two days ago, the Bombers also announced an external review of the club operations in the wake of what chairman David Evans called irregular practices.
“I’m not anxious – we just want the truth,” Hird said of the review.
“David Evans wants the truth, the football club wants the truth, the supporters want the truth and that’s what we’re after.
“Once that comes out, we’ll be able to get on and play football.
“If we have to be distracted during the week, we will be.”
Essendon are also dealing with another issue this week with their trip to Wangaratta for Saturday’s pre-season match against Richmond.
A year ago, the Bombers were a laughing stock when they had to forfeit a pre-season game against St Kilda in the same town.
They decided to fly to Wangaratta, rather than travel by bus, and the plan fell apart when they could not land because of bad weather.
Essendon have held a community camp in the area this week and Hird said they had a good reception.
“It will be great for the people of Wangaratta and so far up here they have been terrific,” Hird said of the match.
Essendon will welcome back captain Jobe Watson, but boom recruit Joe Daniher will not play.
There was plenty of speculation that Daniher, who joined the club under the father-son rule, would make his Essendon debut in Wangaratta after a strong intra-club hit-out last weekend.
“Joe played very well in our intra-club … we just think there are a number of players who need some game time,” Hird said.
“Paddy Ryder needs some game time and we’d hopefully look to play Joe in the next few weeks.
“But at the moment we need to play our senior players.”
Hird added that Daniher was close to playing at senior level.
“If Joe’s ready, he’ll definitely play and he’s showing some signs he will be ready,” Hird said.
“He’s only a young man and we have to look after him.”
After last year’s plague of soft-tissue injuries, Hird said the team was much healthier with their round-one match against Adelaide only three weeks away.