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AFL 2016 Training - Essendon 200116

Ryan Crowley will play as a forward as well as a tagger with Essendon

RYAN Crowley will no longer be used just in a tagging role at Essendon, with the Bombers planning for him to spend time up forward at his new club in 2016.

The former Docker proved himself dangerous in attack in Essendon's intra-club practice match at the True Value Solar Centre on Friday.

Crowley presented well on the lead as a mid-sized forward and he also took a big grab over the top of a pack early in the game, made up of three stanzas of around 25 minutes, before slotting his set shot from directly in front.

"Crowls has developed a big reputation as a tagger, but he was recruited as a midfielder," coach John Worsfold said prior to training.

"He can definitely worry teams when forward.

"We won't use Crowley in purely that (tagging) kind of role."

Fellow veteran top-up player James Kelly also displayed his experience across half-back for the opposing 'Black' team, sneaking forward to nail a clever set-shot from tight on the boundary.

David Zaharakis was prolific through the midfield and forward of centre for the 'Red' team, while highly-rated draftee Darcy Parish displayed his competitiveness around the contest.

Rookie Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti was composed with ball in hand while Yestin Eades was lively up forward.

Worsfold said veteran top-ups Mathew Stokes and Mark Jamar would not play in Essendon's first NAB Challenge match. 

Ruckman Matthew Leuenberger, who has been dealing with Achilles soreness, would also be unavailable. The Lions recruit spent the training session jogging laps around the boundary and working with top draftee Aaron Francis on the far oval at Tullamarine.

"Stokes won't play in the first one and Jamar is unlikely to play in the first one, but other than that they're (the top-ups) are all available," Worsfold said.

"(Leuenberger) is ramping up his running program today. He won't play in the first NAB Challenge game as we progress him along." 

Former Brisbane Lion Sam Michael, who is hoping to win a spot as the club's ninth top-up player, displayed his size (199cm) and athleticism in the ruck in a battle with raw youngster Gach Nyuon.