‘Unlike us: Bombers coach on costly bench debacle
A late injury to Jayden Laverde and an avalanche of goals are among the reasons Essendon were left stranded with no rotations and livewire star goalkicker Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti on the bench in the dying minutes of last week’s loss to Sydney.
The Bombers’ finals hopes are on a knife-edge, needing to win all three remaining matches, starting with Sunday’s clash against the Western Bulldogs, to be any chance of progressing to the post-season after the seven-point loss, the team’s fourth by less than 10 points this season.
Bombers coach Ben Rutten revealed on Wednesday his coaching staff spent a “little bit more” time going over the scenario in the final minutes of the MCG clash.
Essendon hit its capacity of 75 rotations with nearly four minutes left in the game, forcing McDonald-Tipungwuti, on-baller Dylan Shiel and Archie Perkins, with the injured Laverde, to watch on as their team went down.
Rutten said the 33 goals kicked between the two teams played a part but ruled out the interchange issues as a reason his team lost.
Jayden Laverde’s late injury hurt the Essendon rotations. Picture: Darrian Traynor/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images
“It’s a bit unlike us. We haven’t got that close to our rotation cap in a heap of games,” Rutten said on Wednesday, having had a closer look at what happened at the MCG.
“There’s a few reasons behind it. There was a lot of goals scored, which is generally a good opportunity for guys to come off the ground.
“We were in a position where we wanted to win, and part of that was ensuring we had the guys we wanted on the field. To be able to do that we had to speed up our rotations.
“Then Jayden Laverde came off with a shoulder injury, that was unexpected, we had couple of other guys come off because they were just exhausted.
“As much as we try and have a system around our rotations, we also have a bit of flex in that for injuries and for us to get the players we want on the field. That was kind of what happened in the end. It wasn’t the reason we didn’t get the result we wanted.”
Dylan Shiel was left on the bench. Picture: Michael KleinSource:News Corp Australia
Rutten said McDonald-Tipungwuti could have been a “good chance of kicking a goal” but saw other players able to score as well.
“We wanted to make sure we had (Kyle) Langford out on the ground and forward. He’d kicked three goals, he was another one we wanted to prioritise,” he said.
“They are all the little thing that go in to it. You can’t have everything.”
Laverde was cleared of any major structural damage to his shoulder but is “a bit sore” and no guarantee to play the Bulldogs.
Captain Dyson Heppell (thumb) and Langford (hamstring) will need to be replaced, and Rutten said the likes of Alex Waterman, Matt Guelfi and even veteran David Zaharakis could come in.
Rutten said the club was yet to decide on the future of 32-year-old Cale Hooker, who was dropped last week and is out of contract.
“We haven’t made a definitive decision on that, we have other guys out of contract we are working through,” he said.
“It’s not based on the last couple of weeks of footy. He’s got a body of work and has been a champion of our footy club.”
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