Bombers shrug off bug to tackle Tigers
A BOUT of gastro has gone through Essendon this week, temporarily putting several players out of action before their opening AFL pre-season match.
Zach Merrett, Michael Hurley, Orazio Fantasia and Cale Hooker are understood to be among the players who were laid low by the bug.
But assistant coach Paul Corrigan said it had not been a major disruption ahead of Saturday's match against premiers Richmond in Wangaratta.
High-profile recruits Jake Stringer, Devon Smith and Adam Saad will all play against the Tigers.
Merrett is also in the squad of 30, with four to be cut before the first bounce.
Hurley was already unlikely to play because of the wrist injury he suffered earlier this month at an intraclub hitout.
"It's not ideal for the preparation, but everyone is back on deck yesterday and today and everyone got through training no worries, so no concerns there,” Corrrigan said after Friday's training.
"It knocked around a fair few, actually, but some more minor than others.”
Stringer is the biggest new name at Essendon and he has guaranteed even more attention ahead of Saturday with a new blond hair style.
While it has divided opinion among his new teammates, Corrigan said Stringer has earned widespread praise for a solid work ethic at training.
"There are some different theories going around, but each to their own,” Corrigan said of Stringer's new look.
"If Jakey wants to roll with that, good on him.”
Corrigan said Stringer had fitted in well at Essendon after his messy exit from the Western Bulldogs.
"He's taking it in his stride,” Corrigan said of Stringer's first game for Essendon.
"He's fitted in really well among the group, he's been training really well.
"One thing that Jake wanted to do was just get that respect from the playing group and he definitely has that with the way he's trained.”
Rookie-listed ruckman Sam Draper will also play in the senior side for the first time.
"He's put himself in a great spot, whether that's early in the season or later in the season, there definitely could be a spot there for him later in the year if he performs well,” Corrigan said.
The Bombers will play a near full-strength Richmond team, with their squad only missing three members of last year's premiership team.
The squad features Brownlow Medallist Dustin Martin and captain Trent Cotchin.
"We have a decent side in as well, so we'll go up there and work on the things we've been working (at) through the pre-season, with our defence and our contested stuff,” Corrigan said.
"Put in a good show, hopefully, and match up against the best opposition from last year.”