• Mon. Mar 20th, 2023

Zach Merrett could be Essendon’s next captain and said he was “sick of sorrys” from the Bombers as the fallout from a horror 84-point loss on Sunday and an ugly season starts to take a toll.

With president Paul Brasher stepping aside as club president amid ongoing discontent, which includes his support of coach Ben Rutten, Merrett said the time for apologies was over following the big loss to Port Adelaide.

Merrett could be one of two or three players in line to replace Dyson Heppell as captain in 2023 and said his teammates would struggle to “look each other in the eye” having petered out to a 14th loss for the season.

He said supporters deserved better.

“I think they are sick of words, sick of sorrys and apologies. We just have to work and get better. We are letting ourselves down and the fans down,” Merrett said.

“It’s pretty hard to look your teammates in the eye after that. There’s a lot of disappointment and embarrassment of how we played.

“But that’s enough of the words, I think we need to provide actions and behaviours which are much better than that … to show up a lot better than that.”

Reports emerged the purge at board level could pave the way for Essendon to chase four-time premiership coach Alastair Clarkson, who is being courted by both North Melbourne and GWS.

But Rutten, who is contracted until the end of next year and survived an internal review, survived Monday and said his own belief was not shaken by the poor showing and underwhelming season despite talk of discontent.

“Not in my belief in where we are going,” he said.

“It’s never going to be a smooth-sailing, clean progression to becoming a great team, but a performances like that is not something we can tolerate.

“It was not something we want to stand for, not something our supporters should have to watch.”

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