Essendon 2015 List Review – Part 3: Forwards

After previously looking at the Defenders, Midfielders and Ruckman in Parts 1 and 2, part 3 is going to look at the forwards on the Essendon List. This will be the final part dedicated to the list, as the last part will be about the Draft and Trade options for the Bombers.


Coming into the year Essendon’s forward line was the one part of the ground that had the most doubt and concern about it; this is because Essendon have struggled to score (when it counts) in the past few years. Unfortunately for the Bombers that again was the case this year, as they struggled to score and their forward line seemed dysfunctional for a great majority of the time.

Additionally there was too much reliance on Joe Daniher, who is still young and probably is still a couple of years away from developing. To help Daniher up forward with a second tall they tried Carlisle, Bellchambers, McKernan, Ambrose, Hooker and youngsters Jayden Laverde and Kyle Langford; who have all shown glimpses of greatness but not been consistent enough.

They also bought in experience (Chapman, Cooney) over the last couple of years to bolster the Bombers scoring ability but that hasn’t been consistent enough (injuries/ form.) Whilst the consistency hasn’t been there it must be pointed out that the forwards, for most of the year have been a victim of the Essendon’s slow play up the ground.


Paul Chapman

Chapman has been only able to manage  8 games this year due to injury and when he did play he only showed glimpses of his best.

GO– He is out of contact at the end of the year and announced 4 days before Round 22 that he will retire effective immediately and bring end to a great career, as it seems injuries have got the better of him.


Joe Daniher

Daniher is ever improving and has shown glimpses this year of what he will become in a couple of years. He has still struggled against the seasoned defenders this year and whilst he was good on the lead but he didn’t have the body strength to compete against them. At times he was a victim of the Bombers game plan, so he struggled to get opportunities to score and when it did come inside 50 it was 2 or 3 on 1. Goal kicking definitely improved, through the help of Matthew Lloyd, still needs to be worked on but everyone knew it wasn’t going to be a quick fix.

STAY – Contracted long term, is a part of the future of the Bombers and the forward line is being built around him.


Zach Merrett

Merrett has been one of the better players for the Bombers this year. He unfortunately got injured in Round 18 and hasn’t played since but until he got injured he was playing well (averaging 22 possessions and 6 tackles.) He started to move more into the midfield more this year, while still spending time forward and creating forward pressure. Also with Travis Colyer he was one of the only Bombers to show pace around the ground this year and definitely a future star.

STAY – Contracted until the end of 2018, he is a part of the future for the club and will become a vital part of the Bombers forward line and midfield into the future.


Jason Winderlich

He changed his mind about retirement at the end last year but unfortunately Winderlich’s year has been cruelled by injury. He was able to get back in Round 13 against the Hawks but got injured again in the first quarter of the match and hasn’t been able to play since then.*

GO– Is uncontracted and I believe he will retire at the end of this year, due to niggling injuries. He has been a wonderful servant of the Essendon Football Club since 2003.


Adam Cooney

Recruited from the Western Bulldogs to add some experience to the Bombers line up, playing forward/midfield and he started really well by kicking 3 goals on his debut for the Bombers. Due to hamstring injuries and a one match suspension he has been limited to the 11 games this year and will not play any more due to the decision to have a troubling ankle injury fixed through surgery.

STAY – Contracted and has one year left on a two year contract. He will be looking to come back fit and firing next year and play a full year after making the decision to end his year a bit early to have ankle surgery.


Shaun Edwards

Edwards made his debut this year (came from GWS at the start of 2014) for the Bombers in Round 11 against the Eagles and has managed the 8 games since then. Since debuting for the Bombers he has been impressive with his pace and foot skills. He has been lively since coming in, with his willingness to take the game on and pressure in the forward line.

STAY – Contracted and has what the Bombers need – pace and willingness to take the game on and will be looking to play a full year in the senior side (form depending of course.)


Jackson Merrett

Along with his younger brother Zach, Jackson has shown signs this year of the player he is going to become. He has played 13 games this year* playing at half-forward, were he has been creating an impact in the forward line using his pace and his tackling pressure, with his role being to lock the ball inside the forward line and give the Bombers more opportunity to score. Has lacked consistency at times this year, whether it is his ability to stay in the side or in games where he goes in and out of the game.

STAY – Contracted until the end of 2017, but needs to work on his consistency. I believe along with his brother he is definitely apart of the future of the Bombers.


Jake Carlisle

As in 2014 Carlisle started 2015 a forward, but only showed small hints of what he could do, as he only managed 11 goals in the 11 games he did start forward (5 games goalless.) He played forward until he got injured in Round 13 against the Hawks and when he did come back from injury 4 weeks later he was put in the backline as his return was the same time as Hurley’s injury. Carlisle was needed down back and the fact that Cale Hooker had gone forward and was doing an ok job meant there was no real pressure for him up there. When he did play forward, he like all of the Essendon forwards was a victim of the Bombers slow play up the ground.

GO – Uncontracted and has put contract talks on hold with the Bombers. There have been murmurings all year that he wants out of the Bombers; even though he has said publicly he wants to stay I’m not so sure about that. This is because most times player’s hold off talks ‘til the end of the year, they go, which I believe he will and the Bombers will get something good for him (a pick in the first or second round perhaps?)


Partick Ambrose

Ambrose was elevated off the rookie list at the start of the year due to his impact at AFL level playing a lead up role in the forward line last year. Managed the 16 games this year (same as last year) and will not play the last couple of games as the decision has been made for him to have shoulder surgery and make sure he is back at the start of pre-season. He has had an inconsistent year as he has drifted in and out of games too regularly. He also hasn’t created much of an impact on the scoreboard as he only managed the 6 goals this year.

STAY – Contracted until the end of next year. Needs a big year next year otherwise his spot on the list could be in jeopardy.


Travis Colyer

Until he got injured in Round 11 he was one of the better players for the Bombers this year, due to his speed and skill around the ground. Playing as that high half forward and in the midfield, he used his speed to break the lines and his pressure to keep the ball locked in the forward line. Along with Zac Merrett and at times Jackson Merrett, he was the only one to show real pace for the Bombers. Unfortunately due to injury he only managed 11 games this year and when he went down the Bombers lost a lot of their drive.

STAY – Contracted until 2017, is a part of the Bombers future.


Kyle Langford

Came to the club via the draft (pick 17) at the end of last year, is rated highly by the Bombers and is seen as a long term prospect. Has been able to manage the 7 games* in his debut season and has already shown glimpses of the talent he has. Still very young and needs to develop further and hopefully after a few pre-seasons under his belt he will be able to show his ability playing that high half forward role for the Bombers.

STAY – Is part of the long term future of the Bombers and will be playing in their forward line for many years to come.


Jayden Laverde

 Laverde was recruited by the club via the draft (pick 20) at the end of last year and is seen as a strong player for the future. He has managed the 8 games* in his debut season and in those 7 games has shown his talent, in particular his foot skills and his pressure on the opposition. Like Langford will take some time to develop so patience is needed.

STAY – See Kyle Langford above.



Will Hams

Only has been able to play the 3 games* this year for the Bombers as again like the last few years he has had problems with his body. He played those 3 games early in the year and started as the sub for 2 of the 3 games and was dropped in Round 5 due to form. He then played the next few games in the VFL until he did his knee which ended his season.

STAY- Uncontracted at the end of the year. I think he will stay as he has been very unlucky with injuries and needs a full year to prove himself.


Orazio Fantasia

The youngster has played 4 games this year* and shown small glimpses of his speed and willingness to take the game on, as well as showing his ability to put pressure on the opposition players. Needs to find consistency in his footy but it’s only his second year and is still developing.

STAY – Contracted until 2017, definitely a part of the future for the Bombers in that small forward role.


Kurt Aylett (Rookie)

Came across from the Giants along with Shaun Edwards at the end of 2013 and after the two games last year was put on the rookie list at the start of the year. Due to a hamstring injury he wasn’t able to get an elevation onto the senior list and get a chance at senior level.

GO- Had limited opportunities at the Bombers and unlikely to get elevated next year so it’s unlikely he would stay.


Conor McKenna (Rookie)

The Irishman signed with the club as a category B rookie at the end of last year and with that went on the rookie list. He showed off his speed and agility in patches in the VFL and developed well throughout the year. His improvement throughout the year and good form in the VFL rewarded him with a late season elevation and his senior debut in Round 22 against the Tigers.

STAY – Contracted, still got a lot of developing to do but is on the right track and will hopefully make a fine career in the AFL.


Jake Long (Rookie)

Recruited by the club 2 years ago and knowing he was going to take time have put him on the Rookie list to let him develop. Has played 10 games for the VFL side and it has been reported he did some nice things at that level and is developing nicely.

STAY – Uncontracted but I reckon will get another contract to develop further and is being viewed by the club as a long term prospect.


In Summary:

Staying: Daniher, Z. Merrett, Cooney, J. Merrett, Langford, Colyer, Ambrose, Hams, Fantasia, McKenna (Rookie), Long (Rookie)

Going: Chapman#, Winderlich, Carlisle, Aylett (Rookie)


*Up until Round 22

# Already leaving, announced retirement


About Nick Weidmann

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


  1. Tony Flaskle says

    How are all of these plays good enough to stay except 1 player who is already retiring, 2 who are already out of contract and one wasn’t even a senior player?. Essendon weren’t good enough in any part of the ground this season and thinking that will be fixed by natural attrition is bonkers; this would be the start of the drift closer towards nothingness.

  2. All the players I said will stay have shown they can be good players, for example Zach Merrett and Travis Colyer were doing well until they both got season ending injuries, Daniher still needs to develop as he is still young, Laverde and Langford are first year players and shown good signs. It’s not all bad and finally what didn;t hep this years was the Bombers slow play up the ground.

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