After an off-season of turbulence, innuendo and scandal that propelled Essendon into an unwanted spot light, there was a silver lining at the conclusion of Essendon’s incredible and otherwise thought as an “upset” win in the 2013 season opener against Adelaide.
A fresh-faced and recently-drafted Nick Kommer must have been wondering what he had stepped into when the Essendon doping scandal reared its ugly head earlier in the pre-season. Nonetheless, the shaggy-haired East Perth product was eager to dig deep and get on with business. His efforts and form in the NAB Cup didn’t go unnoticed and that brought with it reward in the form of a Round 1 debut against Adelaide at its fortress.
Upon debut, Kommer sealed the deal for the Bombers on Friday night, kicking truly from a well-executed, lace-out pass from teammate Dyson Heppell, but it was the work in the three quarters previous that caused onlookers to take notice.
Kommer’s ability to rack up the contested possessions adds substance to a key area in which Essendon was lacking in 2012: the contested ball count. Considering Kommer had 16 disposals, of which 10 were contested, it’s easy to see why he adds so much to the Essendon line-up and why he has quickly become a favourite of James Hird’s.
His ability to get to the right spots was also evident, proving to be a nuisance as Kommer drew four free kicks for, demonstrating his will to get to the front of a contest, demanding first opportunity and doing so whilst in the company of Scott Thompson, Patrick Dangerfield, Jobe Watson and Brendan Goddard. He didn’t look out of place at stoppages and relished the opportunity to get dirty, something his teammates commended him for.
When Kommer wasn’t found on the bottom of packs, he was seen streaming away with the ball, pulling away from his opponent and penetrating the ball deep inside Essendon’s forward 50, finishing the night with four inside 50s. Yet, it is his pressure acts that will go mostly unnoticed in the statistics count.
He showed the perfect mix of blue and white collar class and his work by foot was nifty. Operating at 68% kicking efficiency, Kommer appears to be assisting the Bombers with his ability to find a target by foot, something which they lacked in 2012.
But perhaps the most pleasing aspect of Kommer’s game was that he was named within the best on Friday night, which is a great wrap given how many of Essendon’s players stood out, bullying the Crows at home at AAMI Stadium. Kommer, like most debutants, didn’t just make up the numbers and disappear into the ether; he stamped himself on the game and impacted across all four quarters, avoided the subs vest and was a clear talking point amongst fans, players and coaches alike.
Kommer was brought to the Essendon Football Club for his toughness, intent and ability to hunt the ball and that is exactly what he did during the season opener. That is why he will remain in the team in a fortnight’s time.