Essendon recruiting manager Adrian Dodoro can scratch triple-premiership fullback Brian Lake’s name off his list of prospective top-up players.
The Bombers are scouring the country for up to 10 replacement players after Tuesday’s shock season-long suspensions handed to 34 past and present Essendon players by the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Key defenders Michael Hurley, Cale Hooker and Tayte Pears are among the 12 players banned who remain on the Bombers’ list but 33-year-old Lake, who reluctantly retired after Hawthorn’s third premiership win in a row last season, quickly dismissed the prospect of coming out of retirement to lend a hand.
“I have considered it for the last 24 hours but since retirement I’ve definitely let myself go and enjoyed the last three months,” Lake told Fox Sports on Wednesday.
“For me I’m very happy to be spending my time playing football at Caroline Springs … I just see it as too hard a task.
“After missing most of the pre-season in 2011 I know how hard it is to come back and play AFL football if you’ve missed two or three months of training.”
Lake doubted any other players who retired after the 2015 AFL season would be able to make a meaningful contribution to the undermanned Bombers unless they had decided to play at state league level and completed a pre-season campaign.
Essendon didn’t cast their net too wide when they needed top-up players to take part in the 2015 NAB Challenge while the players affected by the ill-fated 2012 supplements program served provisional suspensions.
Seven of the 13 replacement players came from the club’s VFL side, with another four either recently delisted by Melbourne-based AFL sides or playing in the VFL.
The Bombers apologised to the SANFL after speaking directly to former Adelaide utility Jared Petrenko rather than his SANFL club Woodville-West Torrens as had been agreed.
The South Australian league was quick to caution against a repeat.
“We have taken the opportunity to remind the AFL that SANFL players are contracted and required players of their SANFL clubs and that any approaches must be made through the SANFL and/or the relevant clubs,” a statement read.
“We have received assurances this will be the case, and we will now work through the process with the AFL.
“It’s too early to speculate on if or how many SANFL players might be approached or what compensation may result. These matters will become clearer in due course. In the meantime, we will continue to work closely with the AFL as the situation evolves.”