Speculate no more: Michael Hurley will be at Essendon for the next six AFL seasons.
Essendon have emphatically ended talk of the All-Australian defender leaving the club by signing him up on a five-year contract extension reportedly worth $800,000 a season.
In doing so, the Bombers have announced themselves as finals aspirants – and more – for 2017.
Just hours after coach John Worsfold said he couldn’t even arrange a coffee with Hurley, the club announced the 26-year-old came to an agreement after arriving home from an overseas holiday.
Hurley said he felt at home at the club, and excited about the progress they have made under Worsfold this season.
“I took the time I needed to come to this decision, and to be honest I couldn’t see my future anywhere other than Essendon,” Hurley said in a statement on Thursday afternoon.
“What became clear was my strong bond with the playing group, I have some really great mates at the club, we’ve made a lot of progress and I want to achieve success alongside them.
“John has had a huge impact in a short period of time and I’m looking forward to playing under him next season and beyond.”
Earlier on Thursday, Worsfold told reporters he was only “fairly confident” that Hurley would re-sign after weeks of speculation that the in-demand defender could find a new AFL home.
“I sent him a message the other day,” Worsfold said.
“I thought he was overseas because he hadn’t responded yet … I’m hoping to hear from him and organise a time to catch up fairly soon.
“We all know the situation has been extraordinary so he’s had to weigh all that up.”
Three hours later, Hurley signed on the dotted line.
A club spokesman said negotiations were taking place between the club and the player’s management, without Worsfold.
Whatever the funny business, the Bombers are delighted to secure a player crucial to their long-term future, even if they’ve had to pay through the nose for him.
Bombers chief executive Xavier Campbell said the club always believed they would retain his services.
“We’ve always felt confident Michael would remain at the club due to the positive discussions we had with him and his management, and I’m sure our members will be thrilled to see him don the sash again in 2017,” he said.
Eight of the dozen banned Bombers – Dyson Heppell, Tom Bellchambers, Cale Hooker, Heath Hocking, Travis Colyer, David Myers, Brent Stanton and Hurley – have now re-committed to Essendon.
Four – Jobe Watson, Michael Hibberd, Ben Howlett and Tayte Pears – are yet to agree new deals to stay.