Brendon Goddard has dismissed suggestions that his Bombers are content with just making the finals and has urged his teammates to reach for the stars as the side prepares for Saturday’s elimination final against Sydney.
Essendon are set to be boosted by the inclusions of injured pair Michael Hurley and Orazio Fantasia, but Cale Hooker remains unlikely after failing to train on Wednesday.
While Hurley and Fantasia trained strongly, Hooker was reduced to working on an anti-gravity treadmill as he continued to manage the pain associated with bone bruising on his foot.
Goddard said although their opponents had been in ominous form, his teammates shouldn’t be underestimating themselves.
“When you get to the pointy end, you’re there for a reason; because you’ve consistently displayed the actions that stand up throughout the year and stand up in finals.
“It’s more about a mental thing now … you prepare that it’s going to go down to the last second because you do have the best eight teams … that’s why we finished where we finished.”
While Essendon’s last September win was more than a decade ago (2004 elimination final v Melbourne), Goddard played in six winning finals with St Kilda.
“We do have something to lose, it’s an elimination final,” he said strongly.
“We’re here to win it, we’re not here to come second.
“Internally, everyone coming back from a year off and everyone coming together, it was quite raw at the time … but we’re pretty optimistic now. We’re in the finals, we’re as good a chance as everyone and we’ve got to think like that.
“We’re not going to be comfortable with just making the finals … we’re here to make an impact.”
And despite the fact that Essendon under John Worsfold has been lauded for their attacking game style, Goddard was quick to point out that there was much more to the free-flowing Bombers than met the eye.
“People like to talk about our offence but our best games have come off the back of great defence and our ability to score quickly from turnovers,” he said.
“Everyone wants to talk about our ball movement and speed of ball movement, but it comes off the back of good team defence.”
The trio of injured Bombers will all travel to Sydney on Friday and Hooker will be given until the last possible moment to prove his fitness.
Hooker was running on the club’s “Ultra G” treadmill, an anti-gravity device often utilised for players with foot injuries.
“We’ll see how he pulls up … we’ll give him until the last minute because he’s pretty important,” Goddard said after training.
“It is harder to (carry injured players into games), the game is more demanding now.
“Teams are very good at exposing weak links and weaknesses and players in opposition teams.”
A spritely Goddard also appeared bemused when asked what his plans were for next season.
The veteran has been reported to have triggered a new clause in his contract, but nothing had been made official by the club.
“Who, me?” he exclaimed. “I’ve got a contract, mate, so I’ll be here day one of pre-season, don’t worry. And if that changes, the club will talk to me, but I’ll be getting paid one way or another,” he added with a smile.