After he had established himself as one of the club’s key defenders in 2009 and 2010, Hooker suffered persistent hamstring injuries which slowed his development during the 2011 season. The disciplined defender had an excellent start before tearing his hamstring against North Melbourne. He played only one more game for the remainder of the year against Port Adelaide.
Now a key player in the Essendon defence, Hooker played a number of important shutting down roles on opposition key forwards during the 2012 season. His attitude to the contest and competitive nature saw him play 17 games for the season, which was a step-up on the 13 games he played during an injury interrupted 2011.
A career-best 2013 season, was rewarded with a three-year contract extension, tying him to the Bombers until the end of 2016.
Hooker showed due faith, by toppling his previous year’s performance by dominating in the air across the backline. He became a vital cog to Essendon’s success and continued to show exceptional leadership down back. All of these factors culminated in his first selection in the All-Australian team.