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Former recruiter praises D'Ambrosio, questions why he was overlooked


Former Collingwood recruiter Matt Rendell was left in awe of Essendon’s Massimo D’Ambrosio’s debut performance, questioning how he was overlooked in last year’s draft.

D’Ambrosio, 19, was rock solid as a rebounding defender in the Bomber’s 35-point win over St Kilda last Friday night, gathering 15 disposals and four rebound 50s.

His debut in the red and black came less than three weeks after he was selected with Pick 3 in the 2022 mid-season rookie draft.

He nominated but was overlooked in the 2021 National Draft.

“I haven’t spoken to anyone about him yet, I can only assume he must have been injured most of the year last year because he looked like he played 100 games,” Rendell told SEN’s The Sporting Capital.

“It was amazing and I haven’t spoken to any of my recruiting mates to find out what the hell happened to him last year. He wasn’t in any of the (championship) teams (as a junior)… I can only assume he didn’t play much, so they (clubs) probably didn’t get a good handle on it.

“Some of those players that play two or three games and look alright, (clubs) get them in through the pre-season supplemental selection period, you can take them before the end of February, but no one even did that with him.”

D’Ambrosio told Essendon’s official website earlier this month that he’d worked hard after going undrafted last year.

“I definitely had a bit of a down period after the draft,” he said.

“But then I sat with my coaches and figured the things out that we were going to do to get me to this position.”

D’Ambrosio overcame back stress fractures to play for the Western Jets last year, although there’s no record of him missing games with the injury.

The hard-running defender was a co-captain for the Western Jets in the NAB League and played eight games for them last year, averaging 18 disposals and three rebound 50s a game.

He played NAB League earlier in 2022 before featuring in the VFL four times for Richmond, his best performance coming with a 33-disposal game against Essendon in Round 12 of the competition.

Rendell says the selection of D’Ambrosio is just another feather in the cap of Adrian Dodoro.

“He’s much-maligned, Adrian Dodoro at Essendon, but God he’s picked some good players. I think you’ve just got to be a bit patient with them,” he added.

D’Ambrosio and the Bombers line up against West Coast in Perth on Friday night in search of their fourth win of the year.


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