'All the best': AFL fans erupt over James Hird announcement

James Hird, pictured here during a GWS game in the AAMI Community Series in March.
James Hird looks on during a GWS game in the AAMI Community Series in March. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

AFL fans have had a mixed reaction after it was announced on Tuesday that James Hird has been promoted to assistant coach at the GWS Giants for the rest of 2022.

There will be an Essendon reunion at GWS with Hird and Dean Solomon stepping up to help former Bombers teammate Mark McVeigh coach the Giants for the rest of the season.

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McVeigh will lead GWS on an interim basis for the rest of 2022 after Leon Cameron resigned as head coach last week.

Hird, who became a leadership advisor for the Giants at the start of the season, will move into an expanded assistant coaching role.

The former Essendon coach's gig at GWS ended a seven-year exodus from the AFL after his tumultuous time in charge of the Bombers came to an end in 2015.

The two-time Bombers premiership player is now an outside chance to become the Giants' third full-time coach.

Solomon and Hird will help out McVeigh in part-time roles, with the trio playing a crucial role together with the Bombers during the 2000s.

Solomon spent time as an assistant coach with Fremantle and Gold Coast, even filling in as interim coach of the Suns in 2017 when Rodney Eade was sacked.

"As we head into the next 13 weeks, it's a great opportunity to have Dean and James join the club's coaching department," Giants football boss Jason McCartney said on Tuesday.

"They're both obviously close with our interim senior coach Mark McVeigh and jumped at the opportunity to support him, our coaching group and the players over the remainder of the season.

"They both bring a fresh perspective and new ideas and we're excited to have them join the Giants."

AFL gives blessing for James Hird to coach again

Speaking last week, AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan says the league won't stand in the way of Hird coaching again, but GWS can forget about receiving assistance in any bid to secure Alastair Clarkson.

Cameron's decision to leave his post as GWS coach following Sunday's clash with Carlton is set to spark a huge coaching merry-go-round.

Four-time Hawthorn premiership coach Clarkson is set to be chased by a host of clubs, and GWS now have the advantage of being able to openly negotiate straight away.

But if Clarkson decides GWS isn't a good fit for him, Hird is shaping as an outside chance.

However the fact Hird was banned in 2013 for his role in Essendon's doping scandal had raised questions about whether the AFL would ever let him coach again.

James Hird, pictured here speaking to other members of GWS Giants staff.
James Hird speaks to other members of GWS Giants staff. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

McLachlan said the league won't stand in Hird's way.

"Absolutely not," McLachlan said on 3AW.

"He's doing work with (GWS) now. I don't know if James wants to coach again.

"He has wanted to come back into football to an extent, but there is absolutely no reason (why the AFL would stop him from coaching).

"They (GWS) want the right coach to take them forward.

"Whether they're a brand coach like Leigh Matthews or Clarkson, the club will work through what their playing group needs."

with AAP

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