Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti and Devon Smith of Essendon.
Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti and Devon Smith of Essendon.

Bombers set for big Anzac Day changes

ESSENDON could make a handful of changes for the Anzac Day clash against Collingwood with two key midfielders available for selection.

Devon Smith is ready to go after missing the win over North Melbourne as he managed a knee complaint, while coach John Worsfold said 2009 Anzac Day hero David Zaharakis "should" be available after a leg infection left him hospitalised last week.

Essendon has lost four of its past five Anzac Day clashes against Collingwood, with this Thursday's edition arguably the closest the two sides have been in standard since 2012.

"I've had three years in charge of this team - the first two years were quite unique," Worsfold said.

"We're slowly putting everything together for where the club wants to get to. That doesn't happen overnight - that takes a lot of commitment to the program and belief in the system that you're putting in place.

"The players are buying in really strongly to it, the coaches are really committed to where we want to take this team.

"We've still got a way to go to say that consistently and over a long period of time that we're playing our best footy. That's what we're working towards, and playing Collingwood in the form they're in is just another great opportunity for us to test ourselves out."

Ruckman Zac Clarke walked with a limp at training on Monday, with visible bruising on his calf after suffering what Worsfold said was a secondary bleed on a corkie.

David Zaharakis suffered an infection in a cut knee.
David Zaharakis suffered an infection in a cut knee.

The club is facing a potentially hefty fine from the AFL after the late inclusion of Joe Daniher into its team on Good Friday, with Worsfold admitting it had taken some pleading on his part to get the forward into the team.

The prospect of a fine is definitely a deterrent, Worsfold said, but having Daniher in the team outweighed that.

"Weighing up what we were looking at, yeah, that's why we made the call," Worsfold said.

"I may have had to plead a little bit with Dan Richardson to make sure that he absolutely understood the process of where we were at, why it happened and why I was really keen to play Joe.

"We made a decision not lightly … it was our error and it was going to cost the club some money. We're disappointed with that, and we're making sure that we've got things in place that it won't happen again."

Daniher had recovered well, the coach said, and will be assessed today before the team for Thursday's Anzac Day clash is considered.

Bob Semple, 98, is one of the last remaining Rats of Tobruk and will speak with the players on Wednesday as they prepare to play in the 25th edition of the Anzac Day match.

"I've read some stuff about him, and you can't fathom going through it," Worsfold said.

"You just can't put yourself in that situation of one, life and death, shells and shrapnel non-stop around you, losing mates, being ill, not eating properly, with vermin around you, and saying 'we're here to do something for our country'. And not for 22 rounds - for years. It's quite amazing, what they did."

News Corp Australia

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