Concern for Bombers amid lockdown limbo
Essendon coach Ben Rutten isn’t worried by the possibility of the Bombers being stranded in Western Australia amid Melbourne’s Covid-19 outbreak.
The side flew to Perth on Wednesday afternoon ahead of its round 11 clash with West Coast and is preparing to spend at least five days in WA.
However, with states and territories beginning to close their borders to Victoria, there is a strong chance the Bombers could be trapped in Melbourne if they return home on Sunday as planned.
But Rutten says the uncertainty will not faze the team, who could enter the top eight for the first time this season with a win on Saturday.
“We (were based outside of Victoria) a fair bit last year and obviously going into this year we knew there were going to be some times where there was a potential that this might happen, but the guys are all pretty flexible and taking it in their stride,” he told reporters on Thursday.
Rutten says the AFL has not yet confirmed whether the club will remain in Perth after Essendon’s match this weekend.
“We’re just going to wait and see on that,” he said.
“We’ve got people working on that … we know what the next two or three days are going to look like so that’s what we’re preparing for.”
Players and staff at the Bombers all tested negative to Covid-19 this week and are free to move about Perth normally in the lead-up to the clash.
Perth-ection 👌 pic.twitter.com/gssHsA0cxv
The Bombers are set to play the Tigers in round 12 for the 17th annual Dreamtime At The ‘G fixture.
But with the Richmond already evacuating Melbourne for this weekend’s game against Adelaide, there is speculation Essendon could meet the reigning premiers in Perth next weekend, rather than at the MCG.
However, Rutten says the location of the match is “Not really top of my priority list” as he looks ahead to the Essendon’s Eagles encounter, which firms as one of round 11’s most enticing contests.
Despite farewelling experienced hands Joe Daniher, Adam Saad and Orazio Fantasia at the end of last season, Essendon has shocked pundits by putting together an engaging brand of attacking footy under new coach Rutten
The Bombers, tipped to struggle up front in 2021, have recorded scores above 140 on two occasions so far this season and enter round 11 with a significantly better percentage than any other bottom eight side.
Their opponents on Saturday, the injury-hit Eagles, have been less than convincing away from home this season. However, they are yet to concede defeat in Perth, so have managed to hold onto a spot in the top eight for the majority of the season thus far.
“They’re obviously a quality team,” Rutten said of the Eagles.
“We know what they’re capable of (in Perth) so we’re preparing for them to be at their best and we know that we’re going to have to be at our best to be able to compete with them.”
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