AFL 3 years ago

Essendons rookies the key to 2015

  • Essendon�s rookies � the key to 2015
  • Essendon�s rookies � the key to 2015

Essendons 2015 campaign has not been helped by their frustrating injuries. Just as they were preparing to welcome back the likes of Jason Winderlich, Heath Hocking, Nick Kommer and soon David Myers, Essendon is dealt yet another dual injury blow. Live-wire forward Travis Colyer out for the season with a fractured navicular and a stress fracture in his 4th metatarsal while ruck man Tom Bellchambers also out for 6 to 8 weeks with a stress fracture in the 3rd metatarsal. So with up to two players being placed on the long term injury list, Essendon will have the opportunity to elevate some rookies from the rookie list. In addition to his, every club can elevate one player permanently after the bye so this could be 3 elevations Essendon can make.

So who is on Essendons rookie list and how likely are they to be elevated?

No. 25 Ariel Steinberg played 3 AFL games for Essendon in 2014 (including 1 finals game). Getting off to a slow start in defence, Ariel soon adjusted and showed a lot of promise in the back line. Given Essendons strength being the typically rock solid defence and the coaches desire to avoid tampering with this proven formula, elevating Ariel would mean he is tried in a different position to where he has usually played - and has at times played very well.

No. 34 Jake Long, son of Essendon champion Michael Long sends shivers down the spine just thinking about the potential in that gene pool. With Michael being revered as one of the most skilful and breathtaking human highlight reels, it is no surprise that all eyes are on Jake. However the club is taking a patient approach with Jakes development and given his VFL debut was in late 2014 and he has been forced to sit out a chunk of this season with a thumb injury, excited Bomber fans will be waiting a little longer before seeing another Long grace the field.

No. 43 Kurt Aylett has played 2 games for the red and black since being recruited from GWS at the end of 2013. The half-back has a solid body and strong work ethic so it is possible he could earn his call up from the rookie list.

No. 44 Shaun McKernan was handed a lifeline by Essendon, recruiting him after 6 seasons with Adelaide and Shaun is not wasting his second chance! After being placed back onto the rookie list with Jason Winderlich returning through the VFL, Shaun is most likely to be the permanent elevation. His only game in 2015, played against the Kangaroos earned Hirds plaudits, Hird singling him out for special mention in the post-game press conference. Hird again indicated his desire to elevate McKernan in the press conference prior to the West Coast game where he stated we would have liked to have had [McKernan], but just the way the rules are we dont get him until probably next week.

No. 45 Connor McKenna may at times struggle to communicate with teammates because of his thick Irish accent but definitely does not struggle to move the ball quickly. The Gaelic footballer joined Essendon in 2015 and has been coming to grips with the oval ball and continues to impress with his running speed and agility. While he has shown great promise and put in some great performances at VFL level, it might be some time before Connor is ready for the big step up to AFL given it is essentially his first year in the code.

Thoughts? Leave them in the comments below.

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