Easter Feaster: David Zaharakis is looking forward to Paddy Ryder feeding him the ball again Photo: Pat ScalaPaddy Ryder’s return to the Essendon side is being warmly welcomed by his teammates. The athletic ruckman has been sidelined for two weeks with an ankle injury, and midfielder David Zaharakis indicated that Ryder’s absence has been evident around the stoppages.
“The midfielders are happy that Paddy Ryder is back in the side. We can start winning some hit-outs which is great. He’s obviously a big asset for us,” Zaharakis said on Friday.
“It enables the midfield to be proactive around stoppages and win some of our own ball off our own ruckman, so that’s great for us.
“You can dictate more to the opposition, whereas last week we were trying to read off [Aaron] Sandilands the whole time.”
Zaharakis was confident that the Bombers would not suffer when they take on St Kilda on Saturday night at Etihad Stadium despite coming off just a six-day break following their game in Perth last Sunday, which resulted in a 53-point loss to Fremantle.
“The boys recovered pretty well. We do have a six-day break, which is short but training on Wednesday was great. It was probably the best it’s been for two or three weeks,” Zaharakis said.
The 2011 best and fairest winner downplayed any lingering effects of the oppressive heat which confronted them in the Dockers defeat, or the flu which had swept through the club.
“Yeah, it was pretty unusual – 33 degrees in Perth – even for Perth is hot,” Zaharakis said.
“I came down with a flu and a cold. There was a few of us who copped the flu and cold which was a nasty thing.
“The boys recovered pretty well. The boys are over all their sickness.”
Zaharakis weighed into the debate on Good Friday football, voicing his support for the concept and Essendon’s involvement in a potential game.
“I reckon it would be great,” he said.
“In the future, it would be awesome to play on Good Friday. It’s a special day and to be able to play in front of a big crowd … and to add another one to the calendar would be awesome for a player.”