HE MAY COP some stick from teammates for saying it, but Bomber David Myers' favourite player to line up on the field with is Orazio Fantasia.
Fantasia made a stunning return from two weeks out with an adductor strain, kicking 5.1 and finishing with 19 disposals at 84 per cent accuracy, as well as taking nine marks (seven of which were inside 50).
The 22-year-old was a class above in an error-strewn game, in which Essendon defeated Fremantle by 29 points despite some serious issues in front of goal. The Bombers kicked 13 goals and 21 behinds.
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"Orazio is just a star. If you saw the way he operates week to week at the club, he works incredibly hard," Myers told AFL.com.au after the match.
"It's no surprise he plays the standard he does. He's incredibly smart, very hard working, very clean and he's a great leader, too. He's been in the leadership group this year for the first time, and he's a real general for us up forward in terms of setting us up.
"We really miss him when he's not there. He's my favourite teammate and I'm happy he's back."
With the Bombers holding an uncomfortably skinny lead of just 10 points over the Dockers with 19 minutes gone in the final quarter, Myers kicked a stunning goal from 45 metres out on the boundary, shaking his head in disbelief when it crossed the line.
"It was a complete accident, it was supposed to go 30 metres out in the centre (of the 50), but you take it if those goes through. A floater from the boundary line, you're not meaning that."
Essendon will now move on to its next match, a must-win affair against a suddenly vulnerable Sydney, who on Saturday lost to Gold Coast in the upset of the season.
The Bombers sit in 11th spot, part of the logjam of teams four points outside of the top eight.
"We're looking forward to it. Given the start of our year, everything has to go right for us and we have to keep improving and winning each game," Myers said.
"We've been pretty good, we haven't been too worried about results. We've just been going about our work week to week and focusing on improving to the point where we are a side that can compete for the next five-to-ten years and give ourselves a chance every year.
"So next week's important, but it is just another step to where we want to take the club."