ESSENDON coach Ben Rutten says the Bombers want skipper Dyson Heppell playing in 2023 and will offer him a new deal for next season.
AFL.com.au's Inside Trading revealed this week the Bombers were yet to put a contract to their captain for next year and that rivals had begun to consider Heppell as a veteran option.
But Bombers coach Ben Rutten said on Friday he wanted Heppell as part of his group beyond this season.
"Yeah, (we want him at the club next year) absolutely. We're talking with Dyson at the moment about what that looks like so that won't be too far off," he said.
"We've been pretty clear with 'Dys' and have communicated with him about all that."
The Bombers on Friday announced Andrew McGrath had signed a two-year deal through to the end of 2024, when he will become a free agent
Heppell has previously told AFL.com.au he would be keen to be at the club to hand over the captaincy and see through that transition, with McGrath and Zach Merrett best placed to take on the gig, potentially in a dual capacity.
Rutten said those discussions would take place about Heppell's place as the Bombers' leader, a position he has held since the start of the 2017 season.
"That's something that I want 'Dys' to be a part of. He's been such an important leader for us and such an important member of our football club so that's probably secondary at the moment for us," Rutten said.
The Bombers are gunning for three consecutive wins for the first time this season when they face Gold Coast on Sunday at Marvel Stadium. But eyes will also be at Windy Hill on Sunday, with veteran Michael Hurley set to make a return to the field after the hip infection that saw him hospitalised last year and miss all of the 2021 season.
BIG BOMBER'S BACK Veteran defender to play first game in over a year
The two-time All-Australian defender and club stalwart needed to get through training on Friday to tick off a return to action in the VFL.
"He's looking on track to get some game time which is awesome for 'Hurls'. The last game we played in 2020 was his last game of footy so it's a great story for him and his perseverance and resilience and the way he's handled himself has been first class," Rutten said.
With six games to go, the Bombers are hopeful Hurley could make it back to AFL level in what would be a phenomenal comeback after his career looked over due to the seriousness of his hip injury last year.
"He's still taking it one step at a time a little bit but if we could see that it would be fantastic," Rutten said.