Essendon 2015 List Review- Part 2 Midfielders/ Ruckmen


After previously looking at Essendon’s defenders in Part One, part two looks at the midfielders and the ruckmen on Essendon’s list.


Whilst boasting a fairly strong midfield group at the start of the year, what that soon found is that they lacked pace, as they were shown up on the outside and on the counter attack. The midfield group was too reliant on the leaders, with matters being made worse due to injuries of key players. When things got tough the defensive pressure disappeared and so did the players confidence.

In this article I will also look at the ruckmen on the Bombers list. This year they used all their ruck stocks, due to injury and form and in need of a new number one ruck man, which they lost after Patty Ryder left. Before I do look at the midfielders on the list I must say that there are some players (young players in particular) that I am unsure where their position is, so I have put them as part of the midfield.




Jobe Watson

Throughout the whole supplements saga Watson has been a fantastic leader for the team, and did it with dignity and resilience.  It eventually took its toll on him and you could tell as his on field performance dropped away and it looked like his love for football had gone completely. Watson was injured in Round 14 against St. Kilda which ruled him out for the rest of the year and it can be seen as a blessing in disguise as it allowed him to have a break from football and all of the external pressure. This will allow him to come back refreshed for next season.

STAY – Obviously will still be there next year, only question is whether he will be the captain next year. I personally believe he will hand it over to Dyson Heppell for 2016 onwards, he will still be a leader on the field but giving up the captaincy will allow him to focus on his football.


Brent Stanton

Stanton has had another consistent year for the Bombers in their midfield, proving he is an essential player for the side. Stanton has played every game this year and will probably come close to winning the Best and Fairest if he continues the way he has. He has played close to 250 games for the Bombers and is an experienced head in a young side. Only criticism is that while he picks up his 25- 30 possessions, a lot of those are being taken in the back half not going forward. Mind you he wasn’t alone as a lot of the midfielders have done that this year.

STAY – Out of contract and an unrestricted free agent, so it will be interesting to see what happens. I think that he will stay and remain a Bomber as they need his experience in the midfield.


Brendon Goddard

Goddard has had another consistent year for the Bombers in their midfield and is a strong leader on and off the field for the club. He has also shown strong assertiveness on where he believes the club is going and the supplements saga. Goddard may come close to winning another Best and Fairest this year, but slight criticism I have is that he sometimes gets easy possessions and not where they count.

STAY – Obviously will stay, leader of the club, don’t need to say anymore.


Nick O’Brien

O’Brien had to wait until Round 13 to get his opportunity in the AFL (after showing good form in the VFL), but had a run of 7 games before he was dropped and not to be recalled until Round 21. He showed his ability to find the ball in the midfield, averaging close to 20 possessions in that 7 game stretch. Has been on the list for 4 years and has only been able to manage 12 games in that time (7 coming this year.)

GO – He is out of contract this year and I think that he will be put on the trade table by the Bombers, to see if they can get something for him. Also as he is an inside midfielder and lacks pace and unfortunately for him the Bombers already have those types of players, who are ahead of him in the pecking order (Watson, Heppell, Myers.)


David Zaharakis

From last year’s standard Zaharakis had a reasonable year for the Bombers, like a lot of the Bombers midfield he struggled to find consistency. He did miss a 6 game stretch due to injury which looked like it set him back. Like other midfielders in the Bombers line up, when he got his 20- 25 possessions it was from chipping it around not getting them where it counted: going forward.

STAY – Contracted until 2017, full pre-season and Zaka will be back to his best next year.


Dyson Heppell

Heppell became the stand in captain for the Bombers when Watson got injured in Round 13 and was ruled out for the rest of the year. He was consistent throughout the year for the Bombers and with three games to go is averaging 26 possessions. Like other midfielders, Heppell is guilty of getting easy possessions rather than where it counts. Last couple of weeks, has felt the pressure of the WADA appeal, especially being one of the leaders and in particular the captain.

STAY – Contracted long term, till 2020. Like most of the Bombers players needs a break over the off season to get away from football. I believe he will take over the captaincy from Jobe Watson in 2016.


Jason Ashby

Second year player, has only has been able to manage the 5 games to this point of the year.  Hasn’t had much of an impact when he has played for the side and spent most of the year playing in the VFL. Even with all the injuries and lack of form by other players he hasn’t been able to force his way back into the side.

STAY – Contracted until the end of next year, only made his debut last year and is still a young player with plenty of promise for the future. Even though this is the case will need to have a big year next year and find a permanent place in the side otherwise his place on the list will be questioned.


Jake Melksham

Melksham has played 15 games this year and it is his sixth year for the club. He was seen by many as one Hird’s favourites but was unable to reward the former coach with consistent form as he has struggled for consistency this year in a struggling Bombers outfit.

GO- Out of contract at the end of this year and hasn’t been able to find consistent form since 2013 and move to the next level. I believe he should be put on the trade table by the Bombers and see what they get for him; also he may need a fresh start.


David Myers

Unfortunately Myers was injured in the first minute of the season in Round 1, and didn’t return until the game against Adelaide in Round 20. His experience and damaging left foot was missed during the year in the Bombers midfield.

STAY – Contracted until the end of next year. A huge part of the Bombers midfield, is a barometer for the Bombers team, will hopefully have a full run at it next year, injury free.


Heath Hocking

Like Myers, Hocking’s experience was missed in the Bombers midfield with his season being ruined by injury. He has been only able to mange 2 games this year (those coming in the last 2 rounds.) The Bombers definitely missed Hocking’s selfless, discipline style and his ability to do a good run-with role on opposition midfielders.

STAY – Contracted until 2017 and is an essential part of the Bombers midfield and a leader.


Ben Howlett

Howlett has played 18 of a possible 20 games* and has been fairly consistent and is probably one of the better players for the Bombers this year. The reason I say this is that while he only averaged 16 possessions this year, it was the way he got those possessions; through contested ball and tackling ability. For most of the year due to Heath Hocking’s injury he moved into the midfield and most weeks was on the oppositions best playing in a run with role and did an alright job.

STAY – Another one contracted until the end of 2017 and like Hocking is another essential member in the Bomber line up. Also with Hocking hopefully injury free next year, he will go back forward and play as that defensive forward type who can kick goals.


Lauchlan Dalgleish

Didn’t play a game this year and hasn’t played a game since 2013. He has had injuries over the last couple of years but when fit has been unable to get his place on the side.

GO – Uncontracted and I think will more than likely go, only managed the 3 games in 4 years at the club.


Elliot Kavanagh

Only managed the 4 games this year* as others have been preferred over him and when he has been given the chance at senior level he has struggled and been unable to take that opportunity.

GO – Another youngster uncontracted, I think he will go as he hasn’t been able to cut it at senior level. Essendon will probably attempt to help him get to another club during the trade period but if not he will be delisted.


Martin Gleeson

The youngster has played all 20 games this year* and is one of the only Bombers to do so. He has impressed in only his second year coming off the half back line (forgot to put him in the defenders part so I put him here) and has had good pace and poise from what I have seen of him this year.

STAY – Contracted until the end of next year, he is player who breaks the line, which Essendon need and can still develop further. I believe he will be a part of the back six for years to come.


Nick Kommer

He hasn’t been able to play a game in the senior side, as he has had injury problems all year. He was able to get back from injury to play in the VFL during the middle of the year but only managed the 3 games before getting injured again.

STAY- Contracted until the end of next year and will be looking to stay injury free next year.



Tom Bellchambers

Bellchambers played the first 10 games of the season, where he was able to show glimpses of his best. This wasn’t consistent enough as he was dropped after Round 10 and then continued to encounter more problems with his ankle which ruled him out for the year. Has been on the list since 2008 and has been given plenty of time to develop.  With Patty Ryder leaving at the end of 2014 he was given the opportunity to become the number one ruckman, but was unable to take it with both hands.

GO – He is out of contract at the end of this year and a restricted free agent. I think he will attract interest from other clubs and if he does go, which I think he will, the Bombers will get a good compensation pick for him. While I know Essendon’s ruck stocks are quite thin he has had plenty of chances to show why he should be the number one ruckman.  Also the compensation pick they get for him could be used to get other ruckman to the club.


Jonathan Giles

Giles had to wait until Round 18 to play his first game for the club, even though he was bought in as a back up to Tom Bellchambers. It was reported early this year that his athleticism was questioned and that is why it took him so long to make his debut for the club and elevated rookie Shaun McKernan was preferred over him.

STAY – Is contracted till the end of next year and I believe will continue to be used as the backup ruckman, for whoever the number 1 ruckman is.


Shaun McKernan

McKernan was drafted as a rookie at the end of last year and was elevated onto the senior list due to some consistent form in the VFL. He was preferred over Giles after Bellchambers when down, although did struggle at times when given the number 1 ruck role.

STAY – Out of contract at the end of the year. I believe will stay and be used as a forward that pinch hits in the ruck.


In summary:


Midfielders – Watson, Stanton, Goddard, Heppell, Ashby, Howlett, Hocking, Myers, Kommer, Gleeson and Zaharakis

Rucks – Giles and McKernan


Midfielders – Melksham, O’Brien, Dalgleish and Kavanagh

Rucks – Bellchambers



*As at the end of Round 21, 2015




About Nick Weidmann

Former Honours student in Journalism at the University of Tasmania and passionate Essendon supporter


  1. Point 1. Brendon Goddard is not “leader of the club”. He certainly likes to give that impression on the field as he directs everyone else to pick up an opponent while he looks to “find space”. Don’t get me wrong. He’s a very good footballer just not as important to the overall plan as he likes to think. He’s got passion that’s for sure but in the same way that Jack Reiwoldt used to have before he matured sometime this year.

  2. We disagree on Zaharakis. He was ordinary at best this year. But he stays because we know he’s a beauty when right. Hopefully he’s been carrying an injury that can get rectified in the off season. God knows we need him back to him brilliant best.
    Having said that, I agree on your stay/go assessments of the midfielders. Really think Gleeson is ready to step up next year.
    Jeez, we need a ruckman ( or 2) Stefan Martin?

  3. Valid point about Goddard, I did mention how he likes to get the easy possessions and not enough where it counts. Also I agree with Zaharakis, it wasn’t as good as previous years and I think he has had some injury troubles throughout the year and like you said we do need him back to his best. Yeah we do, Stefan Martin is a good option or Leunberger is also another option I think. Being a fee agent also we don’t have to give up anything for him.

Leave a Comment