Bombers coach focussed on forward line - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bombers coach focussed on forward line

By Adam Cooper 25/01/2010 08:28:51 PM Comments (0)

Essendon coach Matthew Knights wants his big men to provide plenty of goals this year and will use the coming AFL pre-season competition to assemble his new-look forward line.

The retirements of Matthew Lloyd and Scott Lucas, who booted a combined 1,397 career goals between them, and the departures of several flankers, leaves the Bombers with sizeable gaps in attack.

Knights admits he is yet to ink in all the names in the forward line, but is hopeful ruckmen David Hille and Paddy Ryder can have an impact in attack and that Jay Neagle and Scott Gumbleton can develop into long-term forwards.

Hille is progressing well in his recovery from last year's serious knee injury, but will not take part in Essendon's pre-season opener against West Coast on February 12.

Knights has him in mind for more of a goal-kicking role.

"David has shown in the past he's quite capable as a tall forward, he's quite explosive on the lead and he doesn't mind marking one on one," he said on Monday.

"It is a little bit of the unknown, our forward line, because the reality is the two guys who left, Scott and Matthew, kicked a (lot) of goals, and Adam McPhee and Andrew Lovett also kicked goals.

"We're going to have to find different avenues, that's one of the reasons we recruited Mark Williams (from Hawthorn) and another is the emergence of Scott Gumbleton and Jay Neagle and Patrick Ryder and David Hille.

"We're going to have to get goals out of all those big boys."

Goals were the focus of Monday's session, where the players staged a goal kicking competition and midfielder Kyle Reimers won.

Knights said the Bombers needed time before their new attack functioned well, which meant an emphasis on playing strong sides where possible during the pre-season.

"The reality is you can't turn it on like a switch, the great forward lines have played together for a few years now," he said.

"You look at the Geelong forward line and the mechanics of that and the St Kilda forward line, they really work cohesively and work for each other and that's probably going to take a little bit of time with us."

Knights said Hille was on target to play in round one of the premiership season, but fellow ruck Jason Laycock will be struggling to play Geelong on March 26.

Laycock has overcome the foot problems that ruined his 2009 season, but since then has been troubled by thigh and calf injuries.

"(Round one), it's not out of the question, but he's going to have to make some yards quickly," Knights said.

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