ESSENDON stand-in coach Blake Caracella will take the reins of the Bombers this weekend and says he has set his sights on a senior coaching role in the future.
The 2000 Essendon premiership player will lead the Bombers in their round four clash with Adelaide at Marvel Stadium on Sunday as head coach Ben Rutten is unavailable while in the AFL's health and safety protocols.
Caracella takes on the job as the Bombers search for their first win of 2022 after three successive losses to start the campaign and said after long stints as an assistant at Geelong, Richmond and now Essendon he wanted to take on a senior position.
"It's on my radar now. I've been coaching for 15 years. I kind of fell into coaching when I broke my neck (which ended his career at Collingwood) way back in 2007. Mick (Malthouse) gave me a chance to coach the forward line and through that journey I've had a lot of experience coaching in some good environments.
"I think with that experience, confidence and belief that I can do the job.
"It's grown over time. 15 years is a long time and I've matured as a person and I've learnt along the way.
"I fell into coaching and didn't really know if I wanted to do the senior job but obviously the last four, five, six years I've really enjoyed the demands of the job. I've watched Chris Scott, Damien Hardwick and Ben Rutten and been lucky enough to have some good mentors. I'm looking forward to the challenge ahead but really, to me, Essendon this week is the most important thing."
The Bombers are still navigating how Rutten will be involved in the gameday against the Crows having been in isolation earlier this week.
"We're still going through what we're going to do with Ben. He's going to have some communication with myself and the coaches but the nitty gritty we're not sure yet. Ben has spoken to a couple of caches from other sports who have been in similar situations so we'll discuss that over the next couple of days," Caracella said.
Wingman Tom Cutler will also miss the clash and be withdrawn from the squad after entering the health and safety protocols on Friday.
Meanwhile Michael Hurley, who had a recent calf setback in his bid for a return from his long-term hip injury, is pushing closer to a comeback at VFL level. Caracella said the Essendon veteran was two-to-three weeks away from possibly getting back onto the field.