List changes continue at Essendon after review finds coaching divide

Essendon has delisted premiership winner Jacob Townsend and backline regular Martin Gleeson as changes continue at the club on the back of a cutting review by chairman Paul Brasher.

Townsend, who came from nowhere to play a huge part in Richmond’s 2017 premiership win, played 12 of 17 games in 2020 after joining the Bombers during the AFL pre-season supplemental period.

It was the most games the 27-year-old played in any of his nine AFL seasons with first GWS, then the Tigers, then Essendon. The Bombers confirmed on Thursday that Townsend wouldn't be offered another contract.

Gleeson, a Bomber regular before injuries curtailed him over the past two seasons, and Dylan Clarke were also told they would be delisted but picked up in the rookie draft.

Essendon list manager Adrian Dodoro thanked Townsend and Henry Crauford, who was delisted without playing a game, for their services.

“They are both terrific young men and it’s always a difficult part of the year having to say goodbye, so we wish them all the very best for their futures, he said.

“We have also advised Marty and Dylan of our intention to redraft them as rookies via the AFL rookie draft in December, and we look forward to seeing them develop further as footballers.”

We wish to thank Jacob Townsend and Henry Crauford for their services, and intend to reinstate Marty Gleeson and Dylan Clarke on the rookie list.

The Bombers are still without a football manager, after Dan Richardson was sacked, and a review by Brasher found there were “conflicting philosophies” between outgoing coach John Worsfold and his replacement Ben Rutten in an ugly 2020 for the club.

Essendon slumped to 13th in Worsfold’s final season – winning just one of their last 10 games.

Brasher admitted Worsfold’s player “empowerment/own your own career” philosophy had contrasted starkly with Rutten’s “uncompromising demands on standards and accountabilities”.

“Going forward, everybody, not just the players, but everybody in the entire club will be in no doubt about the standards required and will be held accountable to meeting those standards,” he said.

“Our players will be pushed hard in training, they want to have high expectations placed upon them, and they want to receive strong, honest and constructive feedback on performance.”

The Bombers have vowed to dramatically overhaul the club’s football operations as a result of Brasher’s “brutally honest” probe.

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