Hird unfazed by run of AFL losses - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Hird unfazed by run of AFL losses

Robert Grant 01/07/2011 01:32:39 PM Comments (0)

Essendon coach James Hird is unrattled by the Bombers' sudden run of outs after an impressive start to the year.

The side have lost the past five AFL games and are headed for another defeat on Saturday when they tackle unbeaten Geelong at Etihad Stadium.

Hird says he is less concerned about the string of losses and more interested in how the overall improvement of the players is progressing.

He says it will take around three years before the Bombers are likely to be in contention for finals wins.

Essendon rose as high as third on the league ladder with five wins in eight games, before tumbling down the table in recent weeks.

Hird says it was not unexpected that the team buckled when circumstances turned against them, whether through injuries or through players' lack of hunger.

"We're very realistic about where we're at and very realistic when we started about the process and how long it's going to take and where we're trying to get to," Hird said on Friday.

"It doesn't happen overnight. We're realistic about it. Some people aren't.

"We were also mindful that there was going to be a point in the year that the players went away or didn't play exactly how we wanted them to play.

"That's human nature - you get on a roll, things are going well, things get tough, you maybe don't do it as well as you wanted. We were mindful of that."

While the Cats have a number of high profile players, including Jimmy Bartel, Matthew Stokes and James Kelly, returning for the game, Essendon have been hit by injuries.

Captain Jobe Watson and David Myers have hamstring problems and Sam Lonergan is battling a knee injury.

However, Hird said the game is "winnable" and he is excited at the new group of younger players who will have to step up for the match.

"I look forward to a game where our players develop even further," Hird said.

"We obviously want to win the game and we think we're a chance to win the game but we want to improve and get better and this is part of the process," he said.

Hird has persisted with out-of-form ruckman Paddy Ryder and has again dropped Tom Bellchambers.

However, he admits this time Ryder was fortunate to be named.

"Paddy's probably lucky to stay in the team but we want to develop him as a player as well and we think that this is the best way to do it," Hird said.

"Paddy knows that he's got to improve and he's the first to admit that.

"If you looked in the rooms after the game (last week against Hawthorn), the most disappointed player was Paddy Ryder.

"If his training is any indication, then he's in for a big game."

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