ESSENDON coach Ben Rutten says the Bombers "sped up" their interchange rotations to help get their key players on the field late in the loss to Sydney.
In a rare moment, the Bombers reached their cap of 75 interchange rotations late in the tight game which left them unable to make any more moves with fresh players. They activated their medical substitute Brayden Ham when Jayden Laverde left the field with a shoulder injury he had been battling since the first half.
Rutten explained the rotation issue on Wednesday, saying the shootout with the Swans was a factor in their interchange numbers drying up and that it was not a reason for the seven-point defeat.
"It was a bit unlike us, we haven't really got that close to our rotation cap in a heap of games. There's a few reasons behind it. There was a lot of goals scored, which is generally a good opportunity for guys to come off the ground," Rutten said.
"Towards the end of the game we were in a position where we wanted to win the game and part of that was about ensuring we had the guys we wanted on the field and to be able to do that we had to speed up our rotations.
"In the end we had Jayden Laverde come off with his shoulder that he couldn't keep playing with, and that was unexpected, and we had a couple of other guys who came off because they were exhausted and needed to come off and rotate.
"As much as we try to prescribe and have a system around our rotations, we also have a bit of flex in it for injuries and for us to be able to get the players we want on the field, so that was a little bit of what happened at the end.
"But the main reason was we wanted to ensure we were out there playing to win the game. We didn't want the rotations to hold us back. In the end it wasn't the reason we didn't get the result we wanted."
Laverde remains in doubt for the Bombers' clash with the top-of-the-ladder Western Bulldogs on Sunday as Essendon aims to break a seven-year drought against the Dogs.
The last time the Bombers beat the Bulldogs was in round 18, 2014, with Luke Beveridge yet to lose to Essendon in his senior coaching career.
Essendon will be without Dyson Heppell (thumb) and Kyle Langford (hamstring), with Rutten flagging Matt Guelfi, Alec Waterman and Andrew Phillips as possible inclusions, with veteran pair Cale Hooker and David Zaharakis also in the mix.