James Hird
James Hird

A circumspect James Hird says the club will wait until the end of the season to properly review the club's performance after all but failing to make the finals following an 8-1 start.

Despite suffering four 60-plus point losses in their last six defeats, Hird insisted there was plenty of resilience among the playing group and stopped short of questioning his side's 'hardness' after last week's demoralising 96-point defeat to arch-rivals Carlton.

"If it was a simple as toughening up, it'd be an easy fix but I think there are a few more issues than that," Hird said.

"Certainly the work rate was not as high as in other games and we'd like to see a higher work rate this week.

"The defensive sides of our game needs to be better, work around the contest, we got smashed in the clearances, smashed in the contested ball and our ability to defend the ground."

The Bombers looked certainties to make the top eight after Round 9 but need other results to go their way even if they can defeat Richmond and Collingwood in the last two rounds, to make the finals.

Essendon's review after a lacklustre end to the season is ongoing, but Hird said he would properly sit down with assistant Mark Thompson when the campaign ends to pinpoint exactly where it all fell apart.

"We'll sit down and review everything... let's have a look at the end of the year," he said.

"(We'll look at) the win-loss, which if we win tomorrow we have won more games than we have since 2004.

"What we do need to look at is have we laid a foundation to then go forward again next year and forward again the year after.

"I've seen the work the players have put in, I've seen the way their bodies have changed and I've seen the way we've been able to compete against very good teams for a long part of the game which we couldn't do last year.

"We've done a fair bit right in the first half of the year too so we're very careful not to overreact and throw everything out."

The Bombers' run with injuries hasn't helped their cause with exciting young forward Nicholas O'Brien set to debut on Friday night against the Tigers after overcoming niggling complaints earlier in the season.

A Ballarat product, O'Brien has been waiting in the wings to get his chance up forward for the Bombers.

"He's a running machine and another young kid to come into our team who I think will have a big future for our footy club," Hird said.

"He's a hard-running half forward, six-foot-two... the game's made for those sort of guys that can play multiple positions... good over head, good on the ground and also a good contested ball player.

"Let's not put too much pressure on him. It's his first game but we're very excited to have him in the team."


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