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BH lad set for debut

Saturday, 28th April, 2018

Kobe Mutch has been named on the wing for this Sunday’s game. PICTURE: Essendonfc.com.au Kobe Mutch has been named on the wing for this Sunday’s game. PICTURE: Essendonfc.com.au

Broken Hill export Kobe Mutch will make his AFL debut for Essendon on Sunday. 

Essendon has made five changes to its side ahead of its clash with Melbourne, including the inclusion of the former North Broken Hill junior.

Essendon coach John Worsfold said his selection was a reward for his impressive start to his career.

“Kobe’s been knocking on the door for quite a while,” Worsfold told essendonfc.com.au.

“His form last year was outstanding in the VFL for a first-year player.

“(He) had a little setback in the off-season early with some knee surgery, but we knew he’d get up to speed quickly and he’s done that and we’re excited about his opportunity.”

The 20-year-old finished second in the VFL side’s best and fairest in his first season last year, and has impressed Worsfold with his athleticism.

“His work ethic, his running ability to get up and down the ground, ball-winning ability - he knows how to win it both inside a contest and running hard on the outside.

“So he can play several roles for us through an inside mid or an outside mid, or even at half-forward or half-back with his running capabilities.”

Key defender Patrick Ambrose will return to the side after overcoming a broken wrist and serving a one-week VFL suspension.

Worsfold said he was excited to have him back in the line-up after an interrupted start to 2018.

“It’s great, Patty’s been a really good part of the team over the last couple of years.

“He has to work hard to hold his spot in the team, he knows that, he plays a really key role for us in the back half and gives his heart and soul every week.

“So the boys will be rapt that Patty’s got himself back into the line-up.”

Small defender Ben McNiece will play his third senior game - and first of the season - after a recent hamstring concern.

“(Ben) understands the role, plays the role really well as a small defender (and) kicks the ball really well,” Worsfold said.

“It was really just injury that has probably held back his opportunities, but he’s ready to go now and again (we’re) really excited.

“He’s super quick, competitive and uses the ball well for us.”

Dangerous forward Jayden Laverde will also take his place in the senior side for the first time this year as an important replacement for injured forwards Josh Begley and Josh Green.

“Jayden, he’s been playing really good footy, he’s worked so hard through his injury rehab after another serious injury.

“He’s really impressed us with how well he’s got himself back and how quickly he’s back into really top form.”

Worsfold admitted it was hard not to select Laverde earlier, but has jumped at the chance to bring the 22-year-old back into the line-up.

“He’s been knocking on the door for a while, two unfortunate injuries really open up the opportunity for him that he’s been looking for.

“It’s been hard not to pick him, because his form warrants selection. Now he gets the opportunity, so we’re all excited about that.”

Ruckman Matthew Leuenberger rounds out the inclusions as a like-for-like replacement for Tom Bellchambers.

Worsfold said he is confident Leuenberger can compete strongly with Melbourne’s All-Australian ruckman Max Gawn.

“He’s been in good form rucking in the VFL and the idea is that we’ve got two good ruckmen, we probably won’t play them both in the same team in any given week, but we’re comfortable that either one of them can lead the ruck really well.

“So it makes sense that we’ve got a guy who’s fresh and in really good form ready to back up after a short turnaround for us against a really good ruckman in Max Gawn.”

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