Essendon coach Mark Thompson believes his AFL side have learned their lesson after a shock loss to St Kilda and won’t be taking besieged Brisbane lightly.
For the second Saturday night in the space of four rounds, Essendon confront one of the AFL’s most inspirational key forwards playing for a team they’re expected to touch up.
Bombers coach Mark Thompson, whose charges tackle besieged Brisbane at the Gabba, hopes that is where the comparisons with a shock loss inflicted by St Kilda skipper Nick Riewoldt in round five start and end.
Jonathan Brown headlines four changes made by the Lions for the clash, with Thompson keen to avoid a repeat of the Saints shocker.
“Hopefully we’ve done better,” Thompson said of the lessons learned from the 16-point defeat in which Riewoldt kicked five goals.
“We’ve made them aware of who they’re playing and how good at the basics you have to be, no matter who you play.
“Travelling is a factor on top of that, Brisbane is almost as experienced a team as us.
“Sometimes as a coach it doesn’t matter what we do, the players are the ones that have to go out and do it.”
The lowly Lions endured more off-field drama this week with the exit of chief executive Malcolm Holmes.
But Thompson is more worried about the addition of almost 500 games of experience to the side that slumped to a 79-point loss to Sydney.
“Players are there to win a game of footy. They don’t think: I’m going to try hard because the CEO got sacked,” he said.
“It’s really important to have your better players out there. Good, experienced players are gold.
“When we get BJ (Brendon Goddard) back we win, when (captain Jobe) Watson goes out it’s a little bit harder.”
Pearce Hanley is arguably the most important of Brisbane’s four inclusions, but he can’t match Brown for stature.
The three-time premiership player also has an outstanding record against the Bombers and will be refreshed after being rested from the defeat to the Swans.
Thompson indicated Cale Hooker would be given the job on Brown.
“It’s a real challenge for him, but he should be up to it,” he said.
“The amount of marks he (Hooker) has taken, and marks from opposition kicks has just been outstanding.”