Kane Cornes and Matthew Lloyd have praised Brad Scott‘s governing of Essendon to start the season – including his difficult call to substitute former captain Dyson Heppell.
Essendon won its second straight game under Scott on Sunday, defeating the Suns by 28 points at Marvel Stadium.
Scott, the former Kangaroos mentor, was appointed as the Bombers’ new senior coach in September, replacing his sacked predecessor Ben Rutten.
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“We can often be hard on coaches … but I thought he had a great week,” Cornes told Nine’s Footy Classified.
“To sub Dyson Heppell out was the right call at the right time.”
Essendon great Matthew Lloyd added, “It was a big call, a brave call considering what Heppell has meant to the club”.
Vision played showed the exact moment the 30-year-old was substituted out of the match for Matt Guelfi, with Lloyd highlighting the “shock” which flooded Heppell’s face as he was informed by a staff member.
“That hurts a proud player’s ego being told that he’s the sub,” he said.
Host Craig Hutchison asked whether the “surprise” announcement should have come from one of Essendon’s coaches, which Lloyd agreed with.
“You would love to hear Brad Scott’s explanation of that and whether next time around that [message] should come from the coach,” he said.
Heppell inherited the Bombers captaincy from Jobe Watson ahead of the 2017 season.
In September, Heppell extended his contract with the Bombers for another season, shunning interest from Gold Coast. He did however relinquish his title as skipper, which was picked up by Zach Merrett.
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Cornes also lauded Scott’s decision to not play Jake Stringer despite the key forward being fit to play his first match of the season.
“Stringer played in the VFL, got through three quarters, they won the game – really good decision. I’d love to see him spend at least one, maybe two more weeks in the VFL,” he said.
Scott’s winning gameplay also included power moves such as trying Andrew McGrath at half-back, shifting Kyle Langford forward to cover the absences of Stringer and Peter Wright, and putting Dylan Shiel back on-ball.
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