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AFL season 2016: Essendon coach John Worsfold says starts are a major problem

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Nanjing Night Net

Essendon coach John Worsfold has conceded his team’s starts have become a major problem after the Bombers found themselves already 45 points down at quarter-time and effectively out of the contest in their biggest game of the year.

Collingwood’s eight-goals-to-one opening quarter was the third time in five games Essendon have been jumped by an opponent.

In the first game of the season, Gold Coast kicked 5.5 to the Dons’ 1.1, a deficit they never looked likely to retrieve, and against Port Adelaide in round three the Power slammed on seven goals to a solitary reply, which all but ended the Bombers’ hopes of victory.

“Three of our five starts have been pretty average. That puts the weighting in favour of saying we’ve got to do something about it,” Worsfold said. “We haven’t done anything different in the other two weeks [against Melbourne and Geelong] but we need to address why that may be the case.”

Worsfold said he was a lot more pleased with the second half, in which Essendon scored 9.5 to Collingwood’s 8.4, which came after a number of structural changes to the line-up.

Asked what he could do in practical terms about the tardy beginnings to games, Worsfold hinted he may play his more senior players in the more pivotal positions earlier in games.

“We changed the line-up a fair bit,” he said. “We threw players into different roles, so [Brendon] Goddard and [Adam] Cooney played more wing, [Orazio] Fantasia went more forward and it was really exciting what he showed in the second half playing that role.

“Zach Merrett played more in the forward half in the second half and helped us up there, Courtenay Dempsey went on to a wing, so I think we put more mature players around the wings and midfield, whereas we had a lot kids start there.

“With Fantasia and [Darcy] Parish on the wings, we were pretty young, and maybe it was the occasion or the heat of the game early, but as a group we weren’t ready for that challenge.”

Worsfold said those structural changes were one way to prevent his side, which takes on arch-rival Carlton on Sunday, from being slow out of the blocks again. But he also intended to appeal to their pride.

“You can make sure you’ve got players you think are really good starters in games up around the footy, but other than that, it’s really challenging players to step up and bring that intensity, which they did against Geelong and did against Melbourne,” he said.

“So they can do it. We know we can do it, but we don’t want to be a team that does it two out of every five weeks. It’s got to be a lot more consistent than that.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.