Back off, ‘Dons tell D’s in AFL

Essendon have warned AFL rivals Melbourne to back off after the Demons admitted interest in suspended defender Michael Hibberd.

The Bombers were fighting spot fires on a couple of fronts through Thursday as their hellish season continued.

Midfielder David Zaharakis also hit back at Mark Thompson, a day after the former Essendon coach said the makeshift team was uncompetitive and not playing to win.

Worsfold was unhappy after Melbourne chief executive Peter Jackson confirmed speculation that the Demons are interested in Hibberd.

“I think ‘Hibbo’ is contracted, so they shouldn’t be expressing any interest in contracted players,” Worsfold said.

“I think that’s outside the laws of the game.

“He’s a contracted player and we would love him to be here at Essendon and at this stage we expect him to be here at Essendon.”

Jackson told SEN earlier on Thursday morning that there had been “conversations” about Hibberd.

The defender is among half of the 12 Essendon players serving anti-doping bans who are to confirm they will return to the club.

Hibberd is contracted for next season, but he might be able to register as a free agent if he wants to continue his AFL career elsewhere.

Worsfold also remains confident that key position player Michael Hurley, another banned Bomber yet to re-commit, will stay at the club.

On Wednesday night, Thompson accused Essendon of playing a game style that would not help them win.

The bottom has fallen out of Essendon’s season with big losses to Fremantle and Hawthorn.

But Zaharakis told SEN that in footage of Worsfold’s halftime address last Friday night, the coach had told the players to take more risks.

“Hopefully he’s actually watching the game,” Zaharakis said.

“I don’t know what Bomber was saying in terms of the game style, because we actually are trying to execute it, but we’re not good enough to do it at the moment.”

Zaharakis added Essendon were trying hard to play better and up to a fortnight ago, they had been competitive for periods in most of their games.

He noted while other teams could play badly and still win, Essendon this season do not have that ability.

“We’re definitely not accepting it – we’re trying to win games of footy – but the last two weeks obviously haven’t been great for us as a footy club,” he said.

“Hopefully that’s just two weeks of the year where we’ve had a dip.”

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