James Hird open to AFL coaching return

·3-min read

James Hird has left the door ajar for a return to coaching amid speculation he could be sought out to apply for the vacant Essendon job.

In an interview recorded before the Bombers sacked Ben Rutten last month, the Essendon great was non-committal about a return to the coaching box.

Hird has helped out at GWS this year, first as a leadership advisor, then as an assistant coach to former Essendon teammate Mark McVeigh after long-time Giants mentor Leon Cameron left the club in May.

But Hird did not shut down a question from broadcaster Mark Howard about his coaching ambitions.

"There's a lot of elements about it (coaching) I like," Hird told the Howie Games podcast, released on Thursday.

"I was asked by the CEO of a footy club six weeks ago if I'd like to coach - not his club - but if I'd like to coach again.

"I'd have to have family considerations to do it.

"I love the fact that you get in deeply and you work with young people to create something really, really special and you create a great team environment."

But Hird did say his age, 49, could be a factor and admitted a return to coaching would be a major risk after his traumatic exit from Essendon in 2015 amid the fallout of the Bombers' supplements saga.

"I've worked very hard over the last six years to create another business arm," Hird said.

"At 50, you go down that (coaching) path and that's almost it.

"I'd have to think very carefully about the path that I take and there has to be an opportunity, too."

It comes after former St Kilda and Fremantle coach Ross Lyon rejected overtures to apply for the Essendon job, saying there was "no vibe" to him being a contender.

Lyon ruling himself out of the race following the Bombers' bungled pursuit of Alastair Clarkson, who has since been appointed as North Melbourne's coach.

Essendon have put together a committee including Robert Walls and Jordan Lewis to choose the club's next coach with president David Barham indicating he would like an experienced leader.

Meanwhile, Hird also went into detail about the supplements saga for the first time in a number of years.

During the in-depth interview, Essendon's last premiership captain claimed his greatest weakness was trusting people during his ill-fated stint as Bombers coach.

"We had two people there who were bad people, I don't think they cheated, but that's debatable," Hird told the Howie Games podcast.

"The thing that is the most upsetting is there's 34 players who have done absolutely nothing wrong and their families and them have suffered hugely for it, and so have the Essendon supporters."

Hird spent five weeks in a Melbourne psychiatric facility in 2017 but has rebuilt his life since.

"It was horrible, it was absolutely horrible (waking up in hospital), but it was a necessary part of the journey in terms of where I am now," Hird said.

"My brain was just going at 100 miles an hour, and it wouldn't stop spinning.

"I'm not proud of what happened but I am proud of the resilience that I have to actually get to where I am."

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