JOHN Worsfold believes shorter quarters and the potential of more players on the interchange bench will help Essendon this season, with the outgoing coach declaring the Bombers can win the flag.
With his final year at the helm stopped by the coronavirus shutdown, the Bombers' hopes of a seamless coaching handover to appointed successor Ben Rutten have been interrupted.
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Under senior assistant Rutten the Bombers are working towards a new game style, with Worsfold saying that momentum had been lost by the sudden stop to the season after round one and that "reeducation" loomed for the players.
The Bombers were without some key players through injury in round one, including captain Dyson Heppell (foot), Joe Daniher (groin), Cale Hooker (hip) and Patrick Ambrose (knee), but all are tipped to be available by the times games resume, likely in a quarantine hub of some form.
Worsfold said the Bombers could work the adjusted rules, including 16-minute quarters, to their advantage.
"Overall I think if we can keep our squad fit, healthy and available, potentially the type of season we're going to play may assist us as much as any other club," he told essendonfc.com.au.
"The games will be a little bit shorter, so with our speed, which is one of our key strengths, we should be really able to take it up to teams and not be too worried about drop-offs late in games and try to use that to our advantage.
"As we find out whether there's extra players on the bench, again we feel as though that may play more into our advantage with our list make-up than it would some other clubs.
"There's some pros and cons with the season to come, but suffice to say we're doing everything we can to find all the avenues to perform at our absolute best."
Essendon has lost two elimination finals in Worsfold's four seasons with the club, and the Bombers haven't won a final since 2004.
But the 2006 West Coast premiership coach is bullish about his side's hopes, believing the season structure offered opportunities to sides on the rise.
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"We think we can win the flag. Who knows what happens with other clubs, availability of players, how this season's going to play out, how everyone's going to adapt to being in hubs and playing off short breaks," he said.
"There's a few clubs that, when you look at their lists with their age and experience demographic and past form over the last few years, they deserve to be favourites to be in the Grand Final and top four.
"We've got a bit of work to do to prove we're worthy of being seen as a top-four team, [because] that's when you're really in the hunt to win a flag.
"Our aim is to show we're closing that gap and closing in on that top-four crew, and if you can do that and finish in the top six in a season like this is going to be, I think … everyone in the finals is going to be a chance to win it."