Essendon great James Hird returns to AFL with GWS leadership role



James Hird will have an official role at an AFL club for the first time since he resigned as Essendon coach.

The Brownlow Medallist and two-time Bombers premiership player will join Greater Western Sydney as a part-time leadership consultant.

Hird’s time at Essendon ended in controversy when he was a key figure in the club’s supplements debacle.

The AFL suspended him for 12 months and while he returned to coaching the Bombers, Hird resigned near the end of the 2015 season.

Hird then had serious mental health struggles, but last year he spoke to the GWS players about his AFL career and now will have a formal role at the club.

He credits his former Essendon teammate Mark McVeigh, now a Giants assistant coach, and GWS veteran Matt de Boer for his involvement with the club.

“I had got to know (Matt) quite well through some work away from the club and he invited me to come down and have lunch with the players while the team were in Melbourne last year,” Hird said in a club statement.

“Mark McVeigh then asked if I would come and speak to the group about playing football in Melbourne, my experiences in the AFL, and impart some of my life journey. For younger players it’s good to hear, but also for senior players.”

Hird also said he had a lot of respect for GWS coach Leon Cameron, a former playing opponent, and he is looking forward to working with him.

“It’s a part-time role and very much around the leadership group, but also around the emerging leaders and sharing my experiences in football and trying to get them to lead and encourage and work hard on that side of things,” he said.

Giants football manager Jason McCartney said Hird had a lot to offer the club.

“It’s fantastic to have someone of James’ calibre join our program and work with our leadership group and emerging leaders’ group,” McCartney said.

“We welcome James’ insights from both his storied football career and his work in the business world.”


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