Kane Cornes and David King have questioned whether James Hird will ever be a head coach at AFL level again after news emerged last week that he'd left his role as an assistant at GWS. According to Code Sports, Hird won't be returning to the Giants in 2023 after he became a full-time assistant coach last year.
The news comes after Hird missed out on the head coaching role at Essendon last September, with Brad Scott getting the job instead. Hird is a former player and coach at the Bombers, but his legacy at the club is shrouded in controversy after his time as coach came to an end in 2015 following the infamous supplements scandal.
Speaking last week about Hird's departure from GWS, Port Adelaide champion Cornes said he doesn't think Hird will ever be a head coach again. “This was always my issue with James Hird going for the senior job. I didn’t think he’d done the work to get into a position to have success in that senior role and when I say ‘do the work’, just by the very nature that he’s been out of the system,” Cornes told SEN radio.
“When you’re out of it for a while it’s hard. To go back in for a little bit and then take a new senior job I thought was going to be difficult for him.
“Now that he is out of the system completely, is that James saying ‘okay, I’m giving up the job of being a senior coach’ because there would’ve been 10 clubs that would have hired him as an assistant coach.
“That would’ve been great. If he had gone back, worked in the midfield, coached them and then went to different areas like Michael Voss did at Port Adelaide.”
North Melbourne legend David King agreed, saying: “Will he coach again? Probably not. I think the opportunity was there at Essendon, he took a risk, he put himself on the line, maybe he was given advice to do that and that advice didn’t turn out to be correct.
“I think he’s a wonderful asset. If he was working with your leadership group, I’d still have him involved. You speak to any of the players that he works with … it’s an absolute investment.
“I think some of the work he did with Stephen Coniglio was really impactful. He was in trouble as a player Coniglio and I think Hird helped him get back to his best AFL form.”
James Hird's tumultuous time at Essendon
Essendon's decision to interview Hird for the head coaching job raised eyebrows at the time given he was in charge during the infamous supplements scandal. David Barham, who was the Bombers president when Hird was interviewed, said: “Hirdy went through the process and I was glad he did.
“He went through exactly the same process as everyone else. It was a completely independent process. Everybody had the same opportunity, that was really important.
“Hirdy will always be a champion of this football club. I can‘t speak for him on whether he wants to get involved, that’ll be something for him. He’ll always be loved by this football club.”
— SEN 1116 (@1116sen) February 3, 2023
Hird previously worked at GWS in an advisory role, before being made a full-time assistant coach in 2022. The 50-year-old played 253 games for Essendon between 1992 and 2007, before becoming head coach in 2011.
He coached for three years before serving a suspension during the entire 2014 season after being charged by the AFL with conduct prejudicing the game in relation to the supplements scandal. He returned to the role in 2015 but resigned in August that year after the club slumped to a 5-14 record.
— Breakfast with Harf (@RSNBreakfast) February 2, 2023
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