Bombers need to regain polish: Hird - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Bombers need to regain polish: Hird

By Sam Lienert 02/06/2011 06:27:00 PM Comments (0)

The midfield grunt of Essendon captain Jobe Watson will be sorely missed but coach James Hird says the Bombers also need to rediscover their polish.

Watson, who missed the round nine loss to Richmond with a hamstring injury, will not be risked against Melbourne at the MCG on Friday night.

But while he had been clearly the Bombers' best player over the first eight rounds, Hird said the work in the clinches that is Watson's specialty is not what needs fixing.

"It wasn't necessarily our clearance work or our stoppage work that hurt us," the Essendon coach said of Watson's absence against the Tigers.

"We won the clearances quite convincingly in that game, our contested football was good.

"It was probably more the way we used the ball against Richmond that hurt us.

"The guys that stepped into Jobe's role, in Sam Lonergan and Ben Howlett, were pretty good."

Hird said once Essendon won the ball, they gave it away too easily and their poor ball movement made life tough for their forwards.

He said Watson's strength in close would have been welcome against a Melbourne team that has been boosted by the return of midfielders Tom Scully and Jack Trengove from injury and suspension respectively.

But Hird said the fact that it was a Friday night game hurt both Watson and key forward Michael Hurley, who was almost ready to return from a foot injury.

"If it was a Sunday game they'd definitely play," he said.

Both are expected to return next round against Fremantle.

But key defender Tayte Pears is still several weeks from playing his first AFL game for a year, after overcoming a ruptured pancreas and a serious foot injury.

Hird said Pears made a very encouraging VFL comeback last weekend but would be given three or four weeks to find touch.

"We'd love him to play this week, but we'll give him some time, we'll give him a lot of time to find his feet," Hird said.

"The worst thing you can do is rush a player in at senior level and they play a couple of bad games and their confidence goes and you lose confidence in them as a player."

The Bombers will give an AFL debut to 18-year-old small defender Alex Browne, while ruckman Max Gawn and forward Jeremy Howe will debut among five changes for the Demons.

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