The apprentice showed what he is capable of on Thursday.
“I didn’t say anything at half-time,” Essendon coach John Worsfold said, glancing with a smile towards Rutten, who leads the Bombers’ match-day addresses but sits back and observes while Worsfold fronts media press conferences.
“There was some structural stuff that we adjusted, in terms of how we were setting up.
“It was our ability to win it at the contest and the way we used it out of the contest and then made some changes with our forward structure with Hooker [going] up there.”
Aided by a rampant Essendon midfield, Hooker not only curbed the dangerous McEvoy after being shifted forward, he slotted two second-half majors and proved a valuable foil for Joe Daniher (three second-half goals), whose first AFL game in 467 days was a raging, fairytale success.
“With [Jonathon] Patton going down [injured] for them, it gave us the opportunity to use Hooker in a different role, which had the double effect of making McEvoy a lot more accountable,” Worsfold said.
“‘Chook’ is a talented footballer, he reads the game well, goes forward and gets in good positions. Most backs, when they go forward and get a sniff of a goal, get pretty excited.”
Clarkson eventually moved McEvoy away from Hooker – but the damage was done. “Because McEvoy was going so well, they pushed Hooker forward … then we took McEvoy out of there,” Clarkson said.