BE WARNED, JOE IS COMING
By Adrian Johnson
JOE Daniher arrived in a dramatic fashion on Anzac Day.
There had been glimpses of potential from the former Calder Cannon throughout his 74-game career, but few matches – if any – had been as dominant as his display in front of more than 87,000 fans at the MCG last Tuesday.
Despite squandering chances to finish Collingwood off early, the Essendon key forward redeemed himself when it counted most.
Midway through the last term he boldly fended off Adam Treloar before sealing a Bombers victory with a goal from outside the 50m arc.
Daniher kicked 3.4 from 16 disposals, eight marks and six inside 50s, an exhibition that earned him the Anzac Day Medal.
He polled eight out of a possible nine votes to win the Medal ahead of teammate Michael Hurley.
Since 2000, the Medal has been awarded to the player who best exemplifies the ANZAC spirit – skill, courage, self-sacrifice, teamwork and fair play.
"It's always a good feeling playing on the MCG and doing what I wanted to do as a kid," Daniher said post-game.
"I always dreamt of playing for the Essendon Football Club. To get the opportunity every week is something I'm not taking for granted."
Despite being somewhat inaccurate in front of goal, Daniher’s athleticism and endeavour provided a target up the ground and created space inside 50 for small forwards Orazio Fantasia (four goals) and Josh Green (three).
Daniher moved up the ground and played as a roaming centre half-forward, at times displaying a striking resemblance to St Kilda veteran Nick Riewoldt.
Post-game, the Aberfeldie junior said spending more time up the ground had become his focus ever since teammate Cale Hooker’s return.
“I’m working with Cale at the moment. We’re trying to read how each other plays. We’ve only done one pre-season working together,” Daniher told reporters.
“We’re still trying to get it right [but] I’m really enjoying working with him and he’s a super leader for our football club.
“We’re going to improve and hopefully go in the right direction.”
Daniher played TAC Cup football for Calder Cannons before being drafted by Essendon under the father-son rule, with the 10th overall selection in the 2012 national draft.
Since securing his spot in the senior side, Daniher has been the club’s go-to full-forward, a player who some have tipped to – one day - become the best forward in the competition.
Asked about Daniher's performance after the game, Essendon coach John Worsfold was confident the spearhead's best was yet to come.
"Joey is an improving talent, no doubt about that. I said it a fair bit last year that he is a developing key forward," Worsfold said.
"He's achieved a lot already for his age, but he's still developing and learning the game and growing.
"But he's working hard, that's the thing that we're looking for. He wants to get better through hard work, not through just waiting and biding time."
Daniher was the second former Calder Cannons player to win the Anzac Medal after Dane Swan was twice recognised with the honour throughout his illustrious career.
If Daniher can continue to replicate the form that earned him Tuesday’s Anzac Day Medal, be warned, Joe is coming.