Essendon’s Hooker an AFL free agent

20160303_120721.jpg
Essendon’s Hooker an AFL free agent

Sought-after Essendon defender Cale Hooker has been classed as an unrestricted free agent by the AFL, leaving the Bombers vulnerable to any poaching raid.

The All-Australian backman was among a list of restricted and unrestricted free agents released by the AFL on Thursday – his unrestricted status means he can accept a rival club’s bid without Essendon having the chance to match the offer.

West Australian Hooker, 27, is one of 12 current banned Essendon players banned for this season in the fallout from the club’s 2012 supplements program and has already been linked with Fremantle.

Hooker, who is off-contract at Essendon at the end of this season, is one of six Bombers categorised as unrestricted free agents – Courtenay Dempsey, Heath Hocking, David Myers, Tayte Pears and Brent Stanton are the others.

Dempsey is the sole player in that group not banned this season but rival clubs have reportedly already begun circling Hooker, who last year was named an All Australian and won Essendon’s club champion award.

Hooker is understood to have fallen into the unrestricted category as he was not among the club’s top 25 per cent of wage earners last year.

Other notable unrestricted free agents in the AFL list include Sydney’s Kieren Jack and key defender Ted Richards, Collingwood’s Brownlow medallist Dane Swan, Hawthorn skipper Luke Hodge and teammate Sam Mitchell, Carlton veteran Kade Simpson and Fremantle ruckman Aaron Sandilands.

Seven players including Brisbane’s Daniel Rich, Collingwood’s Steele Sidebottom and Melbourne’s Jack Watts were classed as restricted free agents, meaning their clubs can match any rival offers and have the right of first refusal over the player’s services.

* All Offers and Promotions posted in this article excludes NSW residents.
Stay up to date with the latest sports news
Follow our social accounts to get exclusive content and all the latest sporting news!