AFL 2022: Giants go cool on James Hird taking reins for now

Giants football director Jimmy Bartel says a key priority is finding a type of coach who matches the personality of the club’s playing group. So where does that leave James Hird?

Greater Western Sydney has poured some cold water on James Hird’s chances of taking over from Leon Cameron as senior coach as the club prepares to establish a selection panel as early as next week.

Hird has worked with the Giants as part of a leadership role this year but is currently overseas on a business trip as the club begins its hunt for a replacement.

Essendon legend Kevin Sheedy has backed Hird to have a second crack at senior coaching after departing the Bombers in 2015 over the crippling supplements saga.

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But GWS football manager Jason McCartney on Sunday indicated that Hird was not a frontrunner for the vacant Giants’ job.

“James in his leadership role has been doing some great work with the boys, but it is very much part-time,” McCartney said on Triple M.

“He’s at the club occasionally.

The Giants have revealed James Hird isn’t necessarily the frontrunner for the vacant Giants’ job.
The Giants have revealed James Hird isn’t necessarily the frontrunner for the vacant Giants’ job.

“At the moment he’s in Europe with business interests, so you would really wonder why you would want to jump back into this stuff.”

McCartney was optimistic about what the Giants’ could achieve in coming years despite their slow start to this season.

“There’s plenty to work with. We are acutely aware that there are some things we have got to get better at,” McCartney said.

“Anyone out there would look and back themselves in to come in and do some really good things pretty quickly with this group.

“It’s not something that we think is going to take four or five years.

“There are some high quality established players and good young talent coming through.”

The Giants have no specific timeline but football director Jimmy Bartel said on the weekend a key priority would be finding the type of coach who matched the personality of the club’s playing group.

The club could attempt to bring in a cutting-edge assistant like Melbourne’s Adem Yze to secure some of the Demons’ tactical prowess or go full-on for a premiership coach like ex-Hawk Alastair Clarkson.

Former Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson remains high on the Giants’ radar.
Former Hawks coach Alastair Clarkson remains high on the Giants’ radar.

GWS chief executive David Matthews said he is open to leadership consultant Hird playing a greater role this season to support his great mate Mark McVeigh, the caretaker coach for the final 13 rounds.

He is yet to have a conversation with Hird about whether he would be part of any selection process.

Matthews suggested GWS football boss McCartney, this week mourning the death of his father, would be part of the selection panel as well as Bartel and GWS chairman Tony Shepherd.

It comes as Nathan Buckley has ruled out coaching any club next year. While Buckley has already said he would not move interstate because of his proximity to his two sons, he made clear he didn’t want to coach anyone next year.

“Nup. I won’t be coaching next year. I’m enjoying (being) on this couch too much,” he said on Fox Footy’s Best on Ground.

“Right now, having had the time out of the game and enjoyed the space that I’ve been in with Fox and SEN without the stress and pressure of coaching, I’ve actually really enjoyed myself and the situations I’ve found myself in.

“I don’t feel the need to bring that stress back into my life at this point.

“If I don’t have that in my heart then I can’t do it for myself first and foremost, but I wouldn’t be doing the right thing by an organisation walking in if you were three-quarters ready. I can’t see myself doing it next year.”

Buckley has a two-year deal with Foxtel and would still be highly cherished as a senior coach in coming seasons as he prepares to turn 50 in July.

Coniglio says incoming coach inherits list capable of flag

Giants co-captain Stephen Coniglio says the club can still make a late finals dash as he pledged to give departing coach Leon Cameron a victory farewell against Carlton on Sunday.

Coniglio admitted he was shocked when Cameron called the club’s leaders into a meeting at 8.20am on Thursday to announce that he would step aside for caretaker coach Mark McVeigh.

It will kickstart an exhaustive search but Coniglio firmly believes a new coach will inherit a list that is capable of winning an elusive premiership.

Stephen Coniglio believes the Giants are good enough to play finals this year despite their disappointing start.
Stephen Coniglio believes the Giants are good enough to play finals this year despite their disappointing start.

He told News Corp on Friday despite the rocky start to the season the Giants had enough talent to surge all the way to September if they snapped their run of inconsistent performances.

“I am still confident. Being at 2-6 is not great, but I think there are some wins just around the corner for us,” he said.

“No way do I think the season is over. From what we have been saying to the players, we just need to get a win and then two and three, but finals is still a goal for myself,” he said.

“We need to put in some really strong performances and we are coming up against a really good side, so there is a balance of playing for the coach one last time and sending him off and just playing some of the footy we played against Adelaide a fortnight ago because we let ourselves down last week.

“There is a natural motivation which will come a lot easier this week but for us it’s about doing it for four quarters.”

The Giants will consider coaches including Alastair Clarkson and James Hird, with Coniglio admitting the former Essendon coach still had the natural advantage of his aura of greatness.

“He definitely does. For a lot of the players he was one of our favourite players, so he has got that aura about him,” Coniglio said.

“He was a superstar of the game. He has been overseeing our leadership program with our leadership group and emerging leaders so he’s been great in terms of the knowledge and mindset about how to go about things.”

James Hird, with soon-to-be caretaker coach Mark McVeigh, is held in high regard by the players, says Coniglio.
James Hird, with soon-to-be caretaker coach Mark McVeigh, is held in high regard by the players, says Coniglio.

Hird is believed to be open to expanding his involvement with the Giants to help good mate McVeigh.

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan said on Friday if Hird wanted to coach the club the AFL had no problems with his involvement.

“No, absolutely not and he’s working with the club. I don’t know if James wants to coach again. He has wanted to come back to football but there is absolutely no reason (why he would be prevented from coaching,” McLachlan told 3AW.

Asked if the AFL would contribute to funding Clarkson as part of a third party or ambassadorial fund, McLachlan made it clear no money would be forthcoming.

“The same cost with the soft cap applies to all clubs, it’s not in consideration that there would be additional moneys in the cap for that,” he said.

Coniglio says the Giants still had enough talent to surge all the way to September.
Coniglio says the Giants still had enough talent to surge all the way to September.

“What the club needs and league needs, they want the right coach to take them forward. Whether it is a coach like Clarkson, the club will work through what they need. They will run a process and now they have got time.”

Coniglio said that while Cameron would have similar regrets to the players in missing out on a flag in his time at the Giants he had left the club with class and dignity.

“We have the main 8.30am opposition preview and before that we get called into meetings whether it’s an opinion on selection or something,” Coniglio said.

“Leon called us in ten minutes before that and broke the news.

“It was a bit rushed but he said he was finishing up this week and thanked us for everything over the last nine or ten years and we reciprocated those feelings back.”

League’s green light for Hird to coach Giants

AFL chief executive Gillon McLachlan says the league has no issues with James Hird coaching Greater Western Sydney but has ruled out providing ambassadorial cash to help the Giants secure Alastair Clarkson.

The Giants let go of coach Leon Cameron on Thursday with the hunt to start immediately for candidates with Clarkson and Hird both likely to be on a short list.

The Herald Sun reported on Friday the Giants and many industry figures believe McLachlan will get coaching legend Clarkson to Gold Coast as his parting gift to the battling expansion club.

McLachlan told 3AW on Friday despite being banned for his role in Essendon’s peptides saga the league had no issue with Hird coaching the club.

Hird is believed to be open to expanding his involvement with the Giants to help good mate and caretaker Mark McVeigh, who brought him in to run the club’s leadership program.

But McLachlan said if Hird wanted to coach the club the AFL had no problems with his involvement.

James Hird hasn’t coached in the AFL since leaving the Bombers in 2015 Picture: Getty Images
James Hird hasn’t coached in the AFL since leaving the Bombers in 2015 Picture: Getty Images

“No, absolutely not and he’s working with the club. I don’t know if James wants to coach again. He has wanted to come back to football but there is absolutely no reason (why he would be prevented from coaching”,” he said.

Asked if the AFL would contribute to funding Clarkson as part of a third party or ambassadorial fund, McLachlan made clear no money would be forthcoming.

“The same cost with the soft cap applies to all clubs, it’s not in consideration that there would be additional moneys in the cap for that,” he said.

“What the club needs and league needs, they want the right coach to take them forward. Whether it is a coach like Clarkson, the club will work through what they need. They will run a process and now they have got time.”

The Giants will appoint a coaching sub committee as early as next week that will include Matthews, football boss Jason McCartney, football director Jimmy Bartel and likely an outside football person.

Originally published as AFL 2022: Giants go cool on James Hird taking reins for now