Michael Hartley of the Bombers is tackled during the round seven AFL match between the Sydney Swans and the Essendon Bombers at Sydney Cricket Ground on May 7, 2016 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Essendon has re-signed defender Michael Hartley for a further two seasons, keeping him in red and black until at least the end of the 2018 season.

Hartley has an enjoyed a stellar debut season, playing 19 games after making his debut in Round 2 against Melbourne.

His story has been one of persistence. He was delisted by Collingwood at the end of 2013 after failing to play a game, before starring over the past two seasons with Coburg in the VFL.

He was awarded the VFL centre-half back of the year in 2015, where he caught the eye of the Bombers' recruiters, who selected him with pick 68 in the 2015 National Draft.

Hartley benefited from the suspension of 12 of Essendon's senior players due the 2012 supplements program, but he well and truly grabbed his opportunity with both hands.

The key defender said he cannot wait to welcome back the club's banned players next season.

"The playing group is in a really good place, the next few years are going to be exciting for the football club and it's great to be a part of it," Hartley said.

"I'm pumped that I'm going to have the opportunity to play alongside Michael Hurley down back.

"He's one of just a number of really experienced players who will come back next season, but we're under no illusion that it's going to take plenty of hard work if we're to be competitive."


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