Adam Saad defection blindsided Bombers: Ben Rutten

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Essendon were blindsided by star defender Adam Saad's exit from the AFL club, new coach Ben Rutten says.

Saad has defected to Carlton in a move which stunned Rutten, who takes over as head coach from John Worsfold.

Saad, a dashing defender, is among a batch of players to depart Essendon including key forward Joe Daniher (Brisbane) and goalsneak Orazio Fantasia (Port Adelaide).

Daniher and Fantasia had long been linked with rival clubs, but not Saad.

"'Saady' was the one who was more disappointing and one we didn't see coming," Rutten told RSN radio on Thursday.

"And we always want to keep good people and good players at our footy club.

"Ultimately we want people who are committed to the Essendon Football Club and happy in the environment they're in."

Rutten's working relationship with Worsfold was a source of friction at the club, with a post-season review by Essendon chairman Paul Brasher finding the pair at odds over game style.

Rutten said he now had his chance to leave his imprint on a playing style he desired to be workmanlike, rather than the flashy attacking style favoured by Worsfold.

"I'm really keen for us to establish a strong brand of footy that is going to stand up in finals," Rutten said.

"I want to build a really strong blue-collar footy team that is really known for hard work and a disciplined footy team.

"One that I'd love our members and supporters to turn up every week knowing what they're going to get from us."

The Bombers have three top-10 picks at the December 9 national draft.

"I certainly have a strong voice in what we're doing. I know (list manager Adrian (Dodoro) and our recruiting team are doing a power of work," he said.

"When you get three top-10 picks I think it's important to get the best possible players."