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No send-off games for Hooker, Zaharakis, Carlisle to finish up at Saints

Essendon stalwarts David Zaharakis and Cale Hooker will not be given send-off games against Collingwood this weekend and have likely played their last matches for the club.

Hooker has already announced his retirement and has been supplanted in Essendon’s best side by ex-Gold Coast forward Peter Wright and youngster Harrison Jones.

Bombers stalwart David Zaharakis.

Bombers stalwart David Zaharakis. Credit:Getty Images

Zaharakis has not yet retired, but sources say he is not expected to be given a new contract by the Bombers. He has not appeared at senior level since round 19 against the Giants.

Essendon will not participate in the VFL finals, either.

The Bombers’ unexpected rise to a position inside the AFL’s top eight with a round remaining has closed off the possibility of send-off games for decorated pair.

Because the Bombers are playing for a finals berth on Sunday, and neither of the veterans have been in their best side since round 19, they won’t select them unless there is a compelling need – such as a vacancy caused by injury.

Cale Hooker (left) has already announced his retirement.

Cale Hooker (left) has already announced his retirement.Credit:Getty Images

Hooker, 32, and Zaharakis, 31, have both been overtaken by younger players in the pecking order at Bomberland – Zaharakis finding it difficult to get a game this year behind the likes of Zach Merrett, Darcy Parish, Dylan Shiel and Andy McGrath. While Hooker has managed 18 games this season, and booted 33 goals, Essendon have a clear preference for Wright and Jones.

Zaharakis has played 226 games for the Bombers, winning the club’s best and fairest – the Crichton Medal – in 2011. Hooker, who has played 219 games, won the Essendon best and fairest award in 2015 and was All-Australian in 2014.

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