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Bombers to honour Fletcher

Roger Vaughan 07/05/2011 04:17:41 PM Comments (0)

Sean Wellman chuckles at the question - is he coaching Dustin Fletcher, or is Fletcher coaching him?

They were team-mates on Essendon's 2000 premiership team and now Wellman has come back to the AFL side this season as their defensive coach, with Fletcher his most valuable asset.

Fletcher turned 36 on Saturday and the 333-game veteran is showing no signs of slowing down as he revels in the Bombers' encouraging start to the season.

After sitting out last week with a knee problem, the backline general will come back into the side for Sunday's big match against West Coast at Etihad Stadium.

"Basically he's another coach in that the players all look up to him enormously," Wellman said.

"He's more than willing to pass his knowledge on and whether it's next year or the next three or four years (when Fletcher retires), he's going to leave a huge legacy at this football club.

"He plays a very important role because of who he is and the way he goes about his football."

Essendon will honour the Fletcher family's massive contribution to the club on Sunday at the West Coast game.

Following a supporters' poll, the Bombers will rename the Lockett end of the ground the Fletcher end for all their home games at the venue.

Dustin's father Ken was a Bombers captain who played 264 games from 1967-80.

But there is also a tough game to win on Sunday and a bad memory for Dustin and his fellow backmen to put behind them.

In round 16 last year, Mark LeCras kicked 12.2 as the Eagles beat Essendon at Etihad Stadium.

West Coast went on to finish bottom last season as the Bombers slumped to 14th.

The two teams have been big improvers in the opening six rounds this year, making Sunday an intriguing and important clash.

Essendon have three wins and a draw from six matches and last Sunday smashed Gold Coast by 139 points.

The Eagles also have three wins from five matches and also have a strong record against Essendon.

West Coast have beaten the Bombers in their last four clashes and in eight of the last 10.

"A lot of people talk about West Coast's record (against Essendon) ... but we certainly think we're playing a different style of footy and we want to see how that holds up," Wellman said.

"Obviously West Coast are playing a bit differently as well, it will be a great contest."

Over the last fortnight, Essendon have come up short against reigning premiers Collingwood and punished Gold Coast - now they play a side of much more equal abilities.

But Wellman does not see Sunday so much as a test of where the Bombers stand, rather as another chance to improve the style of game they are trying to develop.

"Whether it's Collingwood, Gold Coast or West Coast or whatever, there are things we plan to do in the game," he said.

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