Essendon midfielder David Zaharakis was hopeful banned teammates Michael Hurley and Jobe Watson would make a decision on their futures soon so the club could start planning for next season and beyond.
Nanjing Night Net

Hurley and Watson were two of 34 past and present Bombers handed year-long suspensions for their involvement in the club’s ill-fated supplement program.

The pair are part of a group of five listed Essendon players who are yet to re-commit to the club along with Michael Hibberd, Ben Howlett and Tayte Pears.

Fellow suspended Bombers Dyson Heppell, Cale Hooker, David Myers, Travis Colyer, Tom Bellchambers, Brent Stanton and Heath Hocking have all confirmed they will be playing for the club next season.

Watson is still holidaying New York while Hurley has recently returned from a European vacation.

“Jobe’s still living it up in New York so who knows when Jobe’s going to come back,” Zaharakis joked on RSN 927.

“Definitely hoping he makes a decision again soon just so we can go into the off-season knowing our plans and what we’re going to do going forward.

“He’s obviously in his rightful mind had time to make his decision. We’ve respected that but hopefully he makes it soon.”

Zaharakis has played footy with Hurley since they were 14 years old and was keen for that bond to continue unbroken into the future.

But Zaharakis was wary of getting into Hurley’s ear too much about staying on with Essendon.

“It is difficult, you don’t want to put pressure on a player as well and that kind of thing,” he said.

“I finally got a text back from Mick the other day, so that was great. He must have found it [his phone] in the Greek Islands on the sand somewhere,” he quipped.

“That was good to hear back from the big fella.

“Whether he made it [his decision] early in the year or whether he makes it late in the year, it’s his call … ‘Hurls’ is back now and hopefully he makes a decision in the next one or two weeks so we can get excited by it if he comes back to the club or if the other way happens.

“He is (a loyal person), the big bear, that’s his main trait. He is loyal to his friends and he does have a very close-knit group of friends so that’s been one of the positives I’ve been banking on that he hopefully stays at the footy club.”

Zaharakis was hoping the team’s upset six-point victory over Gold Coast on Sunday would help convince Watson, Hurley, Hibberd, Howlett and Pears to stick with the Bombers.

“The guys are pretty impressed with how we’re playing and how the young guys are developing as a group and I think that’s why you’ve seen seven committed back to the club,” Zaharakis said.

“Especially ‘Hooksy’ (Cale Hooker) went early because he could see our young guys playing some really good footy and he was really excited about that and hopefully ‘Hurls’ and ‘Hibbo’ and Jobe and the rest of them are seeing that and are quite excited about next year.

“We definitely want them playing, Ben Howlett and Tayte Pears are the other two.

“It was great that Brent Stanton last week announced that he was recommitting to the club … one of my good mates coming back so I’m very happy about that.”

The reintegration of the suspended Essendon players into the club will coincide with the departure of most of the top-up players who filled the breach.

But Zaharakis was hopeful at least one top-up player, James Kelly, was still on the list in 2017.

“I’ve loved the way he’s played this year and I definitely think he’s got another year left,” Zaharakis said.

Essendon could only retain Kelly by re-drafting him later in the year and hoping no other side picks him up.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.