'Worse than Hird': AFL legend's controversial call on Smith and Warner

Kevin Sheedy has dragged Steve Smith and David Warner into the ongoing debate about James Hird.

Sheedy on Monday backed his former Essendon captain to make a coaching comeback at AFL level.

Four-time Bombers premiership coach Sheedy feels Hird has had enough punishment and would do well if given the chance to coach in the AFL again.

Sheedy’s comments will re-open the wounds of the Essendon supplements debacle, which ultimately cost Hird his job as senior coach at the club.

The saga took a massive toll on the Brownlow Medallist and he spent time two years ago in a mental health facility.

“I’m not blaming anyone, but there is no way known he would have wished for what happened,” Sheedy told the Herald Sun.

Kevin Sheedy and James Hird in 2012. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

“And he has said sorry. How many times do you have to say sorry?

“I know people will jump at shadows because of what happened and that’s unfortunate.

“But he is one of the most intelligent football thinkers I’ve met.

“I think he is prime, ready to coach at an AFL club (again).”

Cricketers ‘worse than Hird’

Sheedy compared the supplements saga to cricket’s ball-tampering scandal, saying he felt the actions of Smith, Warner and Cameron Bancroft were worse because there was hard and fast evidence that they were guilty.

“I actually think they (cricketers) were worse than Hird,” Sheedy said.

“Every player in the AFL has supplements, it is yet to be proven ever that they were the wrong supplements because no one knows.

“We know there was actual sandpaper in their hand, don’t we? That’s correct isn’t it?

David Warner and Steve Smith. (Photo by Lee Warren/Gallo Images/Getty Images)

“I don’t want to be judge on those boys, because they’ve moved on, but it’s like me — I hit people (on the field) when I played, and I shouldn’t have done it, but I did, and coaching made me a better person for it.”

‘Never been a positive drugs test’

Sheedy is also certain to cause a stir among anti-doping critics with his assessment of the Essendon saga.

“I hate to say it again but there has never been a positive drugs test,” he said.

The AFL booted Essendon out of the 2013 finals and banned Hird for 12 months, among other punishments, over the supplements scandal.

Hird returned as Essendon coach, but resigned during the 2015 season.

James Hird and Kevin Sheedy in 2005. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

Eventually, 34 current and past Essendon players served WADA-imposed doping bans that gutted the club in 2016.

Hird, who won the 2000 Norm Smith Medal, presented the award at the 2017 grand final.

He was linked to a potential opposition analysis role last March at Fremantle, but it did not happen.

Mixed reaction to Sheedy’s comments

The controversial comments immediately caused a stir among fans.

with AAP