Ben Rutten could be in line for the Richmond return after the sacked Essendon manager met with Tigers’ Damien Hardwick

Ben Rutten could be on the verge of landing with an AFL powerhouse on his feet as he takes steps to resume his career five days after being sacked by Essendon.

7NEWS Melbourne’s Nat Yoannidis has revealed the 39-year-old held a meeting with Richmond manager Damien Hardwick and other key football staff at Punt Road on Friday.

The meeting is understood to have been an informal talk – but it comes with the Tigers on the hunt for a new senior assistant to replace GWS-bound Adam Kingsley.

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Rutten previously served under Hardwick in the 2015-18 seasons and led the Tigers’ defense at the start of their triple Premiership dynasty.

He was lured to the Bombers by Dan Richardson, a former colleague from Richmond, to Essendon’s football boss.

Ben Rutten could return to Richmond. Recognition: Getty

“Ben has made a wonderful contribution to our coaching staff over his four seasons with our club,” Balme said in 2018.

“It is unfortunate that he will be leaving Richmond at the end of our season. He has developed great relationships with both coaches and players and played a key role in our success in the Premier League last year.”

Rutten spent the following two years as John Worsfold’s assistant before taking over as Essendon’s senior coach in 2021.

He was fired from the Bombers this week, taking home a $600,000 payout to avoid seeing his 2023 contract following a board coup and new President David Barham’s failed hunt for Alastair Clarkson.

The Tigers would prove a soft landing ground for Rutten, who garnered widespread sympathy in the AFL world for his treatment by Essendon.

After his final game in charge of the Bombers last Saturday night, he received a warm hug from Richmond star Jack Riewoldt.

Ben Rutten shared a hug with Jack Riewoldt last Saturday night. Recognition: Darrian Traynor/Getty Images

“I probably think I deserve better,” Rutten told reporters in his post-game press conference.

“As a club we have to come together as a whole football club and stick to one plan, put your head down, break down and get the job done.

“There is no other way. There is no other way for this football club to get back to where it wants to be.”

Rutten’s meeting with Richmond came on the day Essendon announced his six-man committee to lead an outside review and help find a new senior coach.

Premiership winners Robert Walls and Jordan Lewis will be joined on the podium by football boss Josh Mahoney, Melbourne Vixens netball coach Simone McKinnis, former NAB chief executive Andrew Thorburn and Bombers director Dorothy Hisgrove.

The club’s coaching legend Kevin Sheedy is a notable absentee.

The external club review and coaching sub-committee make recommendations to the board, which then makes the final decisions.

“The coaching process will be thorough and rigorous. This is a well qualified group of people who all bring different and unique skills to the table,” Barham wrote on the club’s website.

“I have made it clear that we cannot continue to review only ourselves and this external review is critical to the club’s continued success.

“This review will be comprehensive, robust and integrated. We will leave “no stone unturned”.

“We are committed to making the necessary changes to deliver our club its next AFL premiere.”

Essendon have already stated they want an experienced manager, including Ross Lyon, Don Pyke, Justin Leppitsch, Leon Cameron and Mark Williams. Ben Rutten could be in line for the Richmond return after the sacked Essendon manager met with Tigers’ Damien Hardwick

James Brien

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