Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge says his club will attempt to lure suspended Essendon star Michael Hurley should he decide to leave the Bombers.
Hurley is one of six suspended Essendon players yet to declare their intentions once their 12-month anti-doping bans end later this year, leading to speculation he will consider offers from other clubs.
The 26-year-old is contracted for next season, and the Bombers are keen to keep him, but it is believed they won’t stand in his way if he decides to depart the club.
“There’s a handful of Essendon players who are obviously making a decision around their futures – whether they’re going to re-commit to the Bombers or whether they feel like they’ve got a different path ahead of them,” Beveridge said.
“If anyone of the boys who hasn’t made a decision decides they want to move on, us, like the other 16 clubs, need to consider the prospect on them coming in.
“Michael is one of those (players). He’s a very, very good player and if that’s the decision Michael makes, ultimately we need to make sure we throw our hat in the ring.”
Adelaide and North Melbourne have also been speculated to be in the hunt to lure the star defender.
Hurley, Jobe Watson, Michael Hibberd, Tayte Pears, Ben Howlett and Brent Stanton are the other suspended Essendon players still to declare their intentions for next season.
Hurley would be a welcome addition to a side on the cusp of challenging for a premiership but Beveridge has more pressing concerns.
The Bulldogs have been in damage control of late in the face of a flurry of injuries but Beveridge dismissed the notion his side’s premiership ambitions will have to wait until next year as a result.
“Try telling our players that,” he said.
“We feel like there’s still a lot of growth left in us … we feel like there’s some boys who can definitely come into the side and help us on our way.”
Beveridge revealed there is a slim chance Dogs forward Stewart Crameri, also serving an anti-doping suspension stemming from Essendon’s supplements program, could play finals this season if the players’ appeal is upheld by a Swiss court.
Beveridge signed a three-year contract extension on Tuesday, tying him to the club until the end of the 2020 season.