from the club website on Zaka being tagged
Dealing with it
Travis King August 2, 2016 10:06 AM
Zacka has been tagged by some of the best opposition players.
Essendon midfielder David Zaharakis is trying to "embrace" being tagged after conceding he lost the mental battle to overcome close-checking from opponents earlier in the season.
Zaharakis started the campaign on fire, averaging just under 30 touches across the opening seven rounds, but became a target for run-with players in a Bombers midfield missing Jobe Watson and Dyson Heppell.
North Melbourne's specialist stopper Ben Jacobs shut Zaharakis down in round eight, holding him to just 12 disposals, and the Bomber has struggled to rediscover his consistency since.
The 26-year-old had only 11 touches in a round 11 loss to Fremantle and is averaging just 15 possessions over the past four games.
"Obviously, it hasn't been my best month compared to the whole year," Zaharakis told RSNradio on Tuesday.
"(I'm) not in great touch and great form … we’ve got four weeks to go and hopefully I can finish off with a strong four weeks and rectify that last month.
"It definitely has been an indifferent month and I'm not shying away from that – I've got to play better footy."
Zaharakis has spoken to close friends who have battled tags over their careers in a bid to work out tricks to stay in the game under heat from the opposition's best stopper.
"First of all you have to embrace it. If you go out there and don't embrace it and you say 'Why me?' you're going to be in all sorts during the game," Zaharakis said.
"Probably against Freo, probably the worst game of the year for me, there was definitely a change in mindset after that game about how I deal with a tag.
"That was probably one where I went out there and isolated myself a little bit and I've learnt a lot from that game.
"You've got embrace it, you've got a challenge as a one-on-one to beat that player, and I've learnt a few little tricks by speaking to a couple of people.
"You can't just run away from a tag … you've got to try and lose them in a contest.
"Probably working back into your back 50 harder than your tagger is one you can get away with, you can get a few kicks in defensive half going forward and that kind of thing."
One benefit of Zaharakis receiving attention is that young guns Zach Merrett, who is averaging 29 disposals, and Darcy Parish have escaped as much attention.
"They've been great stories. Zachy's having an unbelievable year … he finds a way to find the footy each week. He pops up at contests when you don't think he'll get there," Zaharakis said.
"So his work rate has been unbelievable and he's a true professional, it's no surprise that he's playing the footy that he is.
"Darcy, obviously a first-year player, people can already see his talents and the future is looking bright for him.
"He's a bull at the footy. His intensity around the ball is definitely something that stands out to people."
The Dons, who lost to a red-hot Adelaide by 82 points last round, face Geelong at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.