Lloyd challenged to mentor new Bombers - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lloyd challenged to mentor new Bombers

By Leonard Siragusa 12/05/2008 02:48:43 PM Comments (0)

Essendon captain Matthew Lloyd has accepted he will have to be more of a mentor to the batch of baby Bombers during the last years of his AFL career.

With the club decimated by injuries in the first seven rounds of this season, Essendon have been forced to field very young and inexperienced sides.

The Bombers played three debutants and seven players with 10 or fewer games experience against Port Adelaide in their most recent match.

The lack of experience was a key factor in the team's 64 point thrashing by the Power.

Lloyd, 30 and in the twilight of his career after playing 237 games with the Bombers, admitted he would have to show strong leadership around the club, along with Mal Michael and the injured duo of Scott Lucas and Dustin Fletcher.

He said the senior quartet's duty would be to make sure the club was left in a good state when they all retired from the game.

"I've just got to help develop these young players, that's my role from now on," Lloyd said.

"Scott Lucas, Fletch, myself and Mal Michael - we probably have got two or three years left at best, so we want to leave Essendon in a good state. That's what it's about.

"Hawthorn did it. They went through some tough times four or five years ago and to see them now ... that's Matthew Knights' aim (but) it's not going to happen straight away."

Lloyd said he would not allow his younger team-mates to drop their heads and go back into their shells following heavy defeats to Collingwood and the Power.

"Out on the track, we have just got to keep giving them confidence and belief," Lloyd said.

"We saw Shane Crawford with Cyril Rioli (in Hawthorn's game against Collingwood last Saturday). Rioli had a pretty average game but they just kept giving him the footy to get him into the game and I think that's what we've got to do."

But on the ground, when the pressure was on against Port, some youngsters seemed to be overawed by the task at hand.

The young defence appeared to panic at times trying to clear the ball from kick-ins, particularly during the second term.

At one stage, the pro-Essendon crowd turned on their own by jeering the team after they finally got past half-back on their third consecutive attempt.

But Lloyd said the rest of the team was as much to blame for the young defenders' indecision.

"It's a tough thing to do when there is no one moving for you," Lloyd said.

"We probably weren't working hard enough for the guys kicking in from fullback, which is something we have got to address."

He said a lack of defensive pressure and accountability was the club's major problem.

The Bombers have conceded an average 141 points a game in their past six games, leaking about 60 inside 50s per match.

"We're alright going forward but I think we're letting in 15 to 20 more inside 50s (than the opposition) and we're going to be heavily scored against if that's happening," he said.

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