Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd has put the heat on the club’s current crop of players to take ownership and “stop blaming others” as they look to turn their fortunes around.
The Bombers had a torrid 2022 season, which resulted in senior coach Ben Rutten being sacked and a widespread external review revealing several problems both on and off the field which had plagued the club.
There is a sense around Essendon that a new leaf has been turned in 2023 under new coach Brad Scott and almost an entirely new administrative team in charge off the field, but some fans have felt slightly disappointed at the pre-season campaign which ended with a loss to St Kilda at the weekend.
READ MORE: NRL makes big call on stood-down star
READ MORE: Driver back for Bathurst 1000 after OnlyFans move
READ MORE: Gould blasts ‘greatest abomination in NRL history’
Lloyd, who played in the club’s last victorious final in 2004, has been vocal about his club’s struggles in past seasons, and questioned the mental toughness of the current crop of stars.
“It’s time to stop blaming others. It’s time for the players to take control of their club and go: ‘You know what, we haven’t been tough enough, we haven’t been mentally tough enough, strong enough, on field’,” he told 3AW’s Wide World of Sports Radio.
“I remember how strong I was on the Dylan Shiel moment last year because they got walked all over. You can’t do that. Your pride should say: ‘We just can’t accept being walked all over’.
“A tougher, nastier brand I am hoping we see from the Bombers this year.”
Essendon has the third-youngest list in the AFL and while Lloyd understands that it will be a process to see his side be a consistent premiership threat, he said the effort level should be a non-negotiable.
“It’s a new season … it will take some time,” he said.
“What I have lost with Essendon is, you just don’t know what you are going to get when you turn up. You want to turn up and go: ‘We know that 90 per cent they will put in an effort that you walk away going, they couldn’t have tried any harder’.
“They are a bit young, but that (effort) hasn’t been there for a long, long time.”
Essendon will begin its home and away campaign when it faces arch-rivals Hawthorn at the MCG on Sunday, March 19.
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!