'That's selfish': Essendon players ripped over 'disgraceful' scenes

·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
Dylan Shiel and Devon Smith with singled out by AFL great David King for poor leadership in Essendon's brutal loss to Fremantle. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)
Dylan Shiel and Devon Smith with singled out by AFL great David King for poor leadership in Essendon's brutal loss to Fremantle. (Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

Essendon's horrible start to the 2022 season has been put under the microscope by AFL great David King, with two highly rated recruits in the firing line.

With just one win from the first five rounds, the Bombers' finals hopes appear increasingly unlikely barring a remarkable turnaround in form.

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Former North Melbourne forward David King was left unimpressed with the effort shown by the Bombers, but singled out former GWS recruits Dylan Shiel and and Devon Smith for two plays he felt epitomised Essendon's loss.

After their 48-point thumping at the hands of Fremantle in Melbourne last weekend, King said Smith and Shiel had failed to show the kind of senior leadership that would set a future example for Essendon's younger players.

Smith was sharply criticised for calling to get the ball from 11-gamer Sam Durham, who was lining up for a shot on goal.

After receiving the ball, Smith proceeded to spray a snap shot through for a behind - leaving King fuming that a senior play wouldn't simply back his teammate in to kick a set shot.

“He’s not even in the action but he sees the opportunity to suck the ball out of a young player’s hands to be a goal scorer,” King told AFL 360.

“That is the mindset of one of your leaders. Where’s that gone from being a defensive player to now just wanting to hit the scoreboard?

"That’s a huge shift in four seasons.

“A young player who’s played 11 games has the chance to kick a goal. Instead of going behind him and saying, ‘Go back and go through your routine, we need this one’, or ‘Good luck well done’, he wants to rip the ball out of his hands to get it on his stat sheet."

Essendon veterans clipped over 'selfish' efforts in loss

Shiel wasn't spared from King's criticism either, with a lacklustre defensive effort right after coming off the bench singled out.

King pointed out that Shiel had been sitting for four minutes before re-joining the match, but failed to run back in defence to support the undr-siege backline.

Fremantle surged forward thanks to a four on seven advantage in the midfield - which King gave credit to the Bombers defence for repelling.

He was less impressed with Shiel, who was nowhere near the play despite having significantly fresher legs than his teammates.

The Bombers' AFL finals hopes took a telling blow when they were thumped by Fremantle last weekend. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)
The Bombers' AFL finals hopes took a telling blow when they were thumped by Fremantle last weekend. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

"Dylan’s just been on the bench for four minutes, he’s been on the ground for 60 seconds. All these other players are flagging physically.

“Have a look at this for an effort. This is what disrespect looks like on a football field. Not to the fans, to his teammates.

"He now leaves his fellow midfielders on a four-on-seven on the wing. Look at that. That is horrific."

King said Essendon's porous defence would lead to one of their defenders being dropped, but he said the club should be pointing the finger at their veteran players and demanding they earn their place in the side.

“Right now the microscope goes on these two. I’m going to watch this game on Monday and I’m just going to watch these two. They either respond or you go past them.

“And people will say, ‘You can’t go past those players, we gave up first round picks for those guys’. No. You stand for something at your football club and you go past them.”

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