The Roar
The Roar


Pre-season 'urgency' at the Bombers as players drive a change in mindset hoping to end AFL finals pain

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11th March, 2024

Essendon players say an “urgency” has driven their pre-season after ending the 2023 campaign with coach Brad Scott’s stinging message ringing in their ears.

After capitulating in the final six rounds of last season, blighted by mammoth defeats to Greater Western Sydney and Collingwood, Scott declared the Bombers had to take “extraordinary measures” to lift themselves out of mediocrity.

“In a perverse way, the players leave with a sick feeling in their stomach, and that should drive their off-season,” said Scott after completing his first campaign as Essendon coach.

The proud club’s drought since winning a final has extended into a 20th year, something the players are desperate to rectify.

“I noticed it in the off-season that the mentality amongst the group has shifted,” Bombers midfielder Will Setterfield told AAP.

“There’s a real drive, a sense of urgency from the group that we want to get things rolling and really buy in.

“We want to make the footy club a better place in terms of getting it back to the successful club it was.


“There’s been a really strong drive, not just the players but all the staff and coaches.”

About 15 players embarked on a self-funded trip to a high-altitude training camp in Arizona in preparation for 2024.

Even recruit Jade Gresham joined his new teammates in the United States – just a week after being traded to the Bombers.

Essendon midfielder-forward Jye Caldwell was among those who got to work with Nic Hill – a high-performance specialist who has trained NFL megastars including Odell Beckham Jr and Saquon Barkley.

“It was just a different type of training,” Caldwell told AAP.

“We hardly ran aerobically, it was more sprints and change of direction stuff, which I hadn’t really done much of before.


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“All the American sports are power, muscle-based so I took a lot of things out of that.”

Essendon were smashed in February’s match simulation against St Kilda, and lost a close clash with Geelong in their final practice hit-out.

The Bombers will get their 2024 campaign underway against Hawthorn in front of an expected 80,000 fans at the MCG on Saturday.