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Essendon’s off-season nightmare worsens

Essendon’s roster could suffer another heavy blow this off-season, with reports Bombers utility Devon Smith is exploring his options.SEN presenter Sam Edmund claimed Smith was eyeing a potential shift after just three seasons with the Bombers.Watch the 2020 Toyota AFL Finals Series on Kayo with every game before the Grand Final Live & On-Demand. New…

Essendon’s roster could suffer another heavy blow this off-season, with reports Bombers utility Devon Smith is exploring his options.

SEN presenter Sam Edmund claimed Smith was eyeing a potential shift after just three seasons with the Bombers.

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The 27-year-old featured in 16 games this season, scoring seven goals and racking up 291 disposals.

“The jungle drums are beating furiously that there are more players exploring their options,” Edmund said on SEN’s Captains Run.

“I’m hearing whispers Devon Smith is one of those.”

Unfortunately, several of Essendon’s biggest names have already indicated they want to take their footy career elsewhere next season.

Earlier this week, rebounding defender Adam Saad revealed he wants to join Carlton in 2021, and key forward Joe Daniher told the Bombers he’s seeking a contract with the Brisbane Lions.

There were also reports forward Orazio Fantasia would be next to join the exit queue.

On Saturday, former Essendon trainer Craig Yorston claimed the club’s culture had been “completely destroyed” over the past few years.

As reported by foxsports.com.au, Yorston was a trainer and masseur from 1989 to 2019, was awarded a life membership at Essendon in 2010.

“It’s been completely destroyed over the last 10-12 years. There is no culture inside the club now,” Yorston wrote on social media.

“If the players are asked to play for the guernsey, what does that mean to them or the staff for that matter? When they are all so new that they don’t even understand that there even needs to be a culture.

“Everyone at a club needs to feel that they are an important part of the club. For a very long time now, that hasn’t happened.

“There is a huge disconnect between staff and management. Staff are scared to speak out for fear of being replaced. That happens very easily at AFL level. There’s always someone ready to take your place tomorrow and the club know that and hold it over people. Until that is repaired, unfortunately as a passionate Essendon person, I can’t see how we successfully move forward.”

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Essendon finished the 2020 premiership in 13th position after losing nine of their last 10 games during the regular season. The club has not won a flag in 16 years.

Five-time All-Australian Matthew Lloyd said the news of Saad and Daniher made for one of the “saddest days” he has ever seen at the club.

“I think the club has their heads in the sand if they want to shove this back on the players,” Lloyd told Channel 9’s Footy Classified.

“If they want to go down this track and believe the players don’t want to play the role Ben asked them to, there’ll be a player by the name of Zach Merrett who in 12 months time will say I’m not that content either.”

“I think Saad has been extremely committed to that football club, but hasn’t been content.

“I throw (retiring Irishman) Conor McKenna into this (too). He left the club because he was unhappy in the environment.

“Don’t give me, ‘It’s just about getting around Ben Rutten’s game plan’. This is purely a culture issue of players not being happy, content, not being sure of the direction of the club, not sure if they’re going to get any success there.”

— with James Matthey

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