Essendon legend Matthew Lloyd was unhappy after the Bombers appointed son of gun Tex Wanganeen as a medical substitute in the first game of his AFL career.
Like St Kilda’s Nasiah Wanganeen-Milera in the first round, the young Don saw no game time on his official debut in Saturday’s loss to Brisbane, spoiling what could have been a special day for the player. 18 years old.
Lloyd was firm that the preparation for a debut and the excitement surrounding it is diminished by appointing the young striker as a substitute.
“I don’t like it,” Lloyd said on Nine’s Sunday Football Show.
“When Gavin Wanganeen is there to present him (his sweater), his family flies over – all these arrangements, but the person doesn’t play football for a second.
“It’s such a special moment. We can all talk about our first moment, our first kick, what the experience was like. Ask him (Wanganeen) and he won’t be able to say anything.
“I think you have to wait until they are good enough to be in the 22 to give them their first game and that special occasion, rather than letting them sit for the whole game.”
The 926-goal superstar believes it will cause unnecessary angst and pressure on the squad the following week if the sub is not used for a player’s debut.
“So what are you doing with him this week?” Are you dropping it? Lloyd asked.
Essendon manager Ben Rutten was asked about the situation in the post-match press conference and believes selection as a medical substitute is ‘a good indication’ of where the young.
“He’s not far,” Rutten explained.
“With Tex, we really like a lot of the things he brings, we like what we’ve seen throughout pre-season. But he’s also missed a lot of footy over the last two years, whether it’s COVID , or he also had injuries.
“We believe we have a long-term player in Tex, and we want to make sure we set him up for success. But that said, he’s really getting close, and we were obviously prepared for him to play.
“We wouldn’t have been unhappy (if he had played).”
The Bombers will face reigning Premiers Melbourne in Round 3 and will be hoping for their first victory against the competition’s benchmark, with or without Wanganeen.