David’s a Goliath

David Zaharakis Anzac Day

Less than two months before the start of this season, 2013 Anzac medallist David Zaharakis was a frustrated man.

Having come off a 2012 season that was ruined by a severe quadriceps strain, Zaharakis suffered another strain to the same muscle in late January.

Although it was a far more minor injury and only sidelined him from full training for a few weeks, Zaharakis was annoyed by the interruption to his previously flawless pre-season.

“I was pretty frustrated six weeks before round one,” Zaharakis said on Thursday after Essendon’s 46-point Anzac Day win over Collingwood.

“Personally it was probably a tough 10 weeks last year with the quad and then again just before the season, but I did the right rehab program and got myself right.

“Hirdy and the coaches sort of eased me into the season and didn’t play me probably in a week that I could have played, but they were probably cautious.

“And now I’m reaping the rewards from that cautious program and now I’m sort of getting back to full fitness and playing some good footy, so hopefully that can continue.”

Zaharakis underlined against the Magpies just how desperately the Bombers missed him in their wretched second half of last season.

Bid today on the players ANZAC Day match worn guernseys at the Bomber Shop.

The classy 23-year-old midfielder finished Thursday’s game with a match-high 34 possessions and was the leading goalscorer on the ground with four.

He did the hard stuff inside (14 contested possessions and six clearances) and worked tirelessly in open space (14 handball receives and 19 uncontested possessions).

He pumped the Bombers inside 50 six times, but Essendon coach James Hird would have been most pleased that he also worked back hard to rebound the ball out of Essendon’s defensive 50 three times.

It was a complete performance that deservedly earned Zaharakis this year’s Anzac Medal.

He polled eight of a possible nine votes from the award’s three judges, to be a clear winner ahead of his skipper Jobe Watson (four) and key defender Jake Carlisle (three).

Zaharakis is no stranger to Anzac Day heroics, having kicked a late goal in 2009 that sealed a memorable comeback victory for the Bombers – their last win on the home and away season’s biggest stage before Thursday’s triumph.

Asked which was the sweeter win, Zaharakis plumped for the most recent.

“That happened four years and that was a great day,” Zaharakis said

“(But) now I’m at full fitness and playing good footy … I’ve still got a lot to improve in my game but at the moment I’m feeling pretty good.”

Zaharakis said it was also satisfying to break a seven-game losing streak against Collingwood, and to restore a bit of balance to the Anzac Day ledger that now sits at 11-8 in Collingwood’s favour.

“We haven’t really performed the past couple of years on the big stage on Anzac Day,” Zaharakis said.

“Obviously it’s spoken about by the players that we’re coming up against a side that’s beaten us the last seven times and we were probably the best prepared we’ve been (for some time).”

VIDEO:Click to watch press conference with David Zaharakis and James Hird

For: Essendonfc.com.au