Essendon forward Cale Hooker says he used as motivation the stinging criticism levelled at him after the Bombers’ loss to Richmond.
Hooker’s goalless AFL outing against the Tigers moved Melbourne great Garry Lyon to label him a liability and remark on SEN radio he was “playing like he has no clue what he is doing”.
The 28-year-old, who has kicked 23 goals from 12 games this season, booted two goals in his next match then slammed through five in a 70-point demolition of Port Adelaide.
“I heard the comments. I didn’t agree with them but I understand how the media works … it’s an important part of the game,” Hooker said on Tuesday.
“I didn’t take it personally. It didn’t worry me too much. If anything it gave me a little bit of motivation to keep pushing and keep striving to perform for the team.”
Hooker, an All Australian defender in 2014, was moved forward midway through the 2015 season and kicked 21 goals.
Debate has raged over the best use of his talents but coach John Worsfold remains adamant the veteran plays a vital role in attack even when he’s not kicking bags of goals.
Hooker has an open mind when it comes to whether he sees himself as a permanent forward.
“I think even this year I’ve swung down back at times throughout games when it suits and I’m happy to do that,” he said.
“Whatever the team requires I’m happy to do and I’ll give it my best shot.”
The Bombers are eighth with a 6-6 record coming out their bye and face a tricky encounter against Sydney at the SCG on Friday night.
The resurgent Swans, who are 12th, came from behind to beat Richmond by nine points last week, their fifth win in six matches.
Sydney superstar Lance Franklin was held to one goal by Tigers defender Alex Rance but he has an impressive record against Essendon.
The three-time Coleman medallist has kicked 64 goals in 13 games against the Bombers – an average of nearly five a match.
“We’re not too worried about one player in particular,” Hooker said.
“We know the Swans are an even team, a good side, and we’ll have to be at our best to beat them.”