Essendon have moved closer to drawing a line under the futures of the five uncommitted Dons, requiring Michael Hurley and Jobe Watson to let them know of their plans shortly after the AFL season’s end.
Bombers coach John Worsfold has reached out to Hurley, who has returned from a holiday abroad, with a view to discovering his intentions for 2017.
But he’s yet to hear back from the dominant defender, stretching out the Dons’ preferred timelines on contract decisions for next season.
“I sent him a message the other day,” Worsfold said.
“I thought he was overseas because he hasn’t responded yet … I’m hoping to hear from him and organise a time to catch up fairly soon.”
With every day that passes, it looks more likely Hurley has played his last match for the club, and that was reflected in Worsfold’s language on Thursday.
As recently as Sunday, when the Bombers took a dramatic win over Gold Coast, Worsfold told reporters to work under the premise that Hurley would be in red and black next season.
But on Thursday he left wriggle-room for the 26-year-old to find a new home, saying he was only “fairly confident” he would stay.
“All the way along from what I’ve heard of Michael and his loyalty, it would take something extraordinary for him to leave,” he said.
“We all know the situation has been extraordinary so he’s had to weigh all that up.
Worsfold agreed the club needed to know “absolutely” within “two or three weeks” whether the uncommitted five – Hurley, Watson, Michael Hibberd, Ben Howlett and Tayte Pears – intended on resuming their playing careers at the club, to help with planning.
“We haven’t put an absolute timeframe on it but now that they’re back (from holidays) we’ll be asking the question ‘how much time do you need?’ (and) “what is it you need to make your final decisions?’,” he said.
“We’ve got current players on our list that are out of contract that want to know where they sit.
“Where they sit is influenced by what’s happening with our returning players so it has a flow-on effect.
“There will be a point where we say to guys, ‘this is the date if you haven’t let us by know by then, you need to let us know’.”
The five were part of 12 current Essendon players – as well as five at other AFL homes – made to serve season-long anti-doping suspensions for their role in the club’s 2012 supplements scandal.