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Is there room for one more explosive centre?

Is there room for one more explosive centre?

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Right about now, as the Bombers lick their wounds and hear from Blake Caracella and Ben Rutten about how this elimination final will not shape next season, we come to think about what they have done this year and what key ingredient could be missing.

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To understand this match we need to go back to Round 1 of this year. A jubilant Bulldogs outfit had just defeated the Collingwood Magpies at a half-capacity MCG. We all thought they were going to win a premiership from there with superb players like Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae and Tom Liberatore all combining perfectly. And while they haven’t got themselves a top-four finish – at the hands of the Gabba timekeeper – this Bulldogs season has been very good.

Coming back to the Bombers, they had started the season with no wins and three losses. Nobody thought they had even a hope of finals, yet for a solid half of football they took it up to the Dogs in the elimination final before being absolutely pulverised in the second. That is still a big achievement for them considering three quarters of the country thought they were in a rebuilding phase.

Ben Rutten, Senior Assistant Coach and Team Defence of the Bombers addresses his players

Ben Rutten (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Photos via Getty Images)

But the question still unanswered is: how did they do it?

To start, they lured big Sun Peter Wright over to Windy Hill along with young Giant Jye Caldwell. While Caldwell has been affected by injury this year, Wright has played very well alongside fellow talls Sam Draper and Harrison Jones. They have been receiving high, long kicks from gun midfielders Darcy Parish and Zach Merrett, who have converted well, with Wright averaging one goal and five behinds a game and Jones averaging one goal three behinds a game. This has been working very well for them, as you can see from their results.

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So what should we expect next year? That is an entirely new story in itself.

If I were Essendon list boss Adrian Dodoro right now, I would be trying to lure St Kilda’s Seb Ross to don the sash for 2021. The explosive midfielder is an unrestricted free agent at the Saints, and I would look to get a few more years out of his obvious talent. Ross used to be the talk of Moorabbin before injuries and inconsistency hampered his football abilities.

At his best Ross can be the definition of an X factor midfielder, and if anyone can make an unlucky football player find his best form, it’s the Bombers. This year they have coaxed out some of the best football from stars like Merrett, Parish and Devon Smith, who were already amazing players but entered some of the best form of their careers in 2021.

What Essendon need is one more explosive player to benefit from young Sam Draper’s hitout talent and also be able to play great football alongside their current stars. Ross would fill that gap beautifully.

Will Essendon try to make Ross a Bomber? Can they take him into another finals campaign? Only time will tell.

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