Hooker’s future not certain but talks are good: Rutten

Cale Hooker’s future at Essendon remains a discussion point as the season nears its end, with coach Ben Rutten saying there is “good dialogue” between club and player but no certainty yet about the veteran being in red and black in 2022.

Hooker, who became a permanent forward late in the pre-season because of Michael Hurley’s injury, has kicked 32 goals and played every match this season, pairing with young tall Harrison Jones and Peter Wright at other times to great effect.

Cale Hooker has been in hot form for the Bombers this season. Credit:Getty Images

His five-year deal with the Bombers concludes at the end of 2021 with Hooker then becoming an unrestricted free agent. He turns 33 in October.

“[There’s] probably not certainty about it just yet,” Rutten said. “But there’s certainly been good conversation and good dialogue with Cale throughout the whole year as I am with a lot of players.

“I think Cale’s been playing a really important role for us this year. He’s had some inexperienced guys in and around him and I think his impact and his ability to allow Jonesy [Harrison Jones] to do what he’s been able to do this year, and support Pete [Wright]. And Cale has been able to have some really significant impact in some games as well. So we need to weigh all of that up and working with Cale as well.

“It’s a big decision for both parties to be able to continue on and we’ll make sure we do what’s best for him and the footy club.

“We’re certainly having conversations all the time about it, you know about how Cale’s going, where we’re going as a club so that communication is happening all the time. Probably not going to come to a definitive conclusion just now but that’ll work itself out as the season goes on.”

The Bombers will play the Giants on Sunday where they will try to defend their spot in the top eight. They are eighth, equal on points with Richmond, Fremantle and St Kilda but only two points ahead of GWS in 12th spot.

Essendon don’t have a good record against top eight sides this year but only two of their last five matches are against teams currently above them on the ladder (Sydney and Western Bulldogs).

Rutten would not be drawn by questions on whether making the finals this season was a big focus for his team.

“[I’m] not sure [how much finals drives the group],” Rutten said. “Certainly driven to get better. I mean that’s the main thing we have been focussing on, from day one.

“None of that has changed and even on the back of the game last week … there are certainly some areas of our game [last week] the guys weren’t all that happy with.”

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