He led the Bombers back from the brink, but the Worsfold-to-Fremantle chatter will not stop

Australia World

Updated September 06, 2019 16:54:00

John Worsfold does not usually give too much away apart from the odd quip back to a pointed question during a media conference.

This is not a new thing. He was like that while coach of the Eagles, often leaving journalists walking away from an interview without him having properly answered any of the questions.

But this season, his plain-faced persona when coaching from the bench has come in for criticism.

Even when he strode onto the ground at Perth Stadium after Essendon’s AFL elimination final loss to West Coast last night, it was hard to get a gauge of exactly how he was feeling, given the loss could end up being a career-defining one.

Worsfold has been far from disgraced steering the Bombers this season.

The club made the eight with 12 wins, although he could not take it to its first finals victory in 15 years.

And he has done some important things at Essendon. He led them out of the doping scandal, off the bottom of the ladder and back to the finals.

But despite all that, Worsfold has endured constant speculation about his position this year.

With the Bombers’ 2019 season now over, that is sure to intensify, even though Worsfold said earlier this week he thought his future was secured at Tullamarine for 2020.

But remember, Ross Lyon “guaranteed” he would be coaching the Dockers next year — and we all know how that ended.

Worsfold among favourites for Freo gig

Worsfold played 209 games for the Eagles and coached them in another 281, leading them to the 2006 flag.

He is revered by many, particularly in Western Australia.

Worsfold almost became Fremantle coach in 2001 after the sacking of Damian Drum, but with West Coast also on the hunt for someone to lead them, he ultimately ended up back at the club he captained to two premierships.

Almost 20 years on, there is industry chatter that he could end up at the Dockers in some capacity if he is not at Essendon next year.

He is the clear third favourite with bookmakers to be Fremantle’s new coach, behind his old teammate Peter Sumich and the favourite, former Dockers player Justin Longmuir.

Interestingly, as coach he lured Longmuir to West Coast to be an assistant in 2011, so they have an existing relationship.

Footy works in funny ways and it is not out of the question that situation could be reversed next season.

‘I am not the decision maker’

After the loss to the Eagles, Worsfold had changed his tone slightly when asked if he was confident about being at the Bombers next season.

“Does it really matter how confident I am? I am not the decision maker and [not] signing myself up,” he said.

“I am really confident about what I’ve built with this group and where we are currently placed and their ability.

“Going forward I have said I am more than willing and keen to keep on building this group.”

When questioned if he had been assured of being at Essendon next year, he said: “Well I have a contract, what more could you ask for?”

“I’m more than comfortable that it is an open and respectful, honest, two-way conversation [with CEO Xavier Campbell] about where we are at and what our plan is going forward.”

Whatever happens in the next few weeks, Worsfold will likely have options.

Topics: sport, australian-football-league, perth-6000, fremantle-6160, wa, melbourne-3000, essendon-3040, vic

First posted September 06, 2019 11:45:03

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