Sydney co-captain Luke Parker is ready for whatever retribution might come his way on Saturday from a wounded Essendon outfit seeking to restore lost pride.
Parker was a central figure when the two sides last met in round nine, causing a stir when he ridiculed Bombers midfielder Dylan Shiel for not attacking a contest hard enough.
Shiel's teammates didn't stand up for him and Essendon copped a week of scathing criticism following their 58-point thrashing, which sparked a four-match losing skid that ended their finals hopes.
Bombers coach Ben Rutten expects his players to be hell-bent on redemption at the MCG but Parker simply intends to roll with the punches as he reaches the 250-game milestone.
"I'm just trying to go down to win a game of football with the boys," Parker told reporters on Thursday.
"Whatever comes my way, if anything, we'll deal with that.
"I don't know what their game-plan is or what they're talking about.
"All I know is what we can focus on here and I'm sure they want to put in a good performance, (but) that's most teams every week."
Rutten stopped short of declaring it a 'line in the sand' moment for struggling Essendon (3-11) but has demanded a vastly-improved performance in response to the round-nine debacle.
"The way we competed and turned up to perform was nowhere near the level and I think that incident probably typified our performance," Rutten said on Thursday.
"So we're really keen as a footy club and a playing group to get back and respond and perform better.
"The guys don't need that (Parker incident) to get them motivated.
"They're aware of how they performed and that's the main thing, and they're keen.
"The fixture has looked after us in some sense that we don't have to sit on that performance for too long."
Rutten has been impressed with Shiel's response since he was thrust into the spotlight by Parker's on-field jibes.
"We know what Dylan's capable of and with the way he's conducted himself he's been a real role model for us," Rutten said.
"I'm just really pleased for him and the group.
"The last five or six weeks his footy's been really good and he's been an important story for us this year."
Essendon will regain prolific midfielder Darcy Parish (calf) against Sydney but Andrew McGrath (adductor) will miss at least one more match.
Australian Associated Press
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