James Hird Essendon Bombers coach hopes: Zach Merrett’s sensational call

Rumours are swirling over comments made by Bombers star Zach Merrett at a corporate function surrounding the future of Essendon legend James Hird. The 26-year-old was reported to have poured cold water on the push for Hird to coach the team. Merrett, one of the club’s biggest stars, was reported to have told a corporate lunch function last week that he can’t see Hird returning to the club as head coach in 2023. However, the situation became even murkier on Friday afternoon with Channel 7’s Tom Browne reporting Merrett has since reached out to Hird to support the 49-year-old’s pursuit of the job. The storm surrounding Hird’s links to the vacant coaching position went berserk this week when it was confirmed the club legend had been interviewed for the job by the club’s coaching sub-committee. Watch every match prior to the AFL grand final Live & Ad-Break Free In-Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >The club is in crisis following the decision to sack former coach Ben Rutten with reported rifts between the paying group and executives.CEO Xavier Campbell and former president Paul Brasher have also departed. Hird, who last coached the Bombers in 2015, has officially put his hand up for the job and was one of four candidates interviewed by the sub-committee.There has been fresh speculation on Thursday that Hird may have been given a “wink and a nudge” by the club that he is a serious candidate or even the preferred candidate. News Corp’s Max Hatzoglou first reported Merrett, a three-time best and fairest winner, said Hird was not his preferred choice. Merrett was coached by Hird in 2015 before the coach left in the middle of the season. Reports claim Merrett told the Women in Insolvency and Restructuring Victoria Footy Finals Luncheon the playing group would make it work if Hird is appointed coach, but delicately said he hopes the club goes down another path. Browne has since posted on Twitter he has ben told via text message that Merrett has told Hird he supports the 1996 Brownlow medallist’s ambitions to coach the football club again. Browne wrote Merrett “would be excited if the Bombers legend wins the role”. There had been further rumours earlier this week Hird may be in a showdown with Melbourne Demons assistant coach Adam Yze for the position. Former North Melbourne coach Brad Scott, Brendon Lade and ex-Adelaide coach Don Pyke have also been linked with the coaching process, while Leon Cameron and Ross Lyon have ruled themselves out. The Bombers have also been linked with potential interest in Port Adelaide coach Ken Hinkley, despite the Power coach remaining under contract. Hird was appointed Essendon’s coach at the end of 2010 and was stood down by the AFL for the 2014 season after the club’s doping scandal.The club was banned from the finals series while 34 past and present players were suspended for two years, resulting in 17 of them missing the 2016 season.Hird returned to coach the Bombers in 2015 before resigning later that season.Essendon legend Tim Watson on Thursday said the club doesn’t need a saviour like Hird to turn the club around. Watson said he’d be “more than surprised” if Hird ultimately returns to the club as head coach. Watson said Hird was entitled to be given a chance to go through the application process.Let’s say Essendon is broken, what would unite a club will be success,” Watson said on SEN Breakfast.“It doesn’t have to come from James Hird being the coach of the Essendon Football Club to unite Essendon. The club would’ve been united under Ben Rutten and John Worsfold had they been more successful.“We don’t need a saviour to come back to the Essendon Football Club and unite the Essendon Football Club. We need somebody who’s able to put a plan of action in place that’s able to deliver success and to start to build a successful team again.”Originally published as Rumours swirl over Bombers star’s comments as Hird text message revealed