Zach Merrett reaches out to James Hird to clarify report suggesting Merrett didn’t want Hird to coach Essendon

Essendon star Zach Merrett has reached out to club legend James Hird in support of Hird’s bid to return to management.

The Gun midfielder was speaking at a luncheon (for Women in Bankruptcy and Restructuring of the Victoria Footy Finals Luncheon) last Friday, and News Corp reported that Merrett had said he didn’t think his club should reinstate Hird. But 7NEWS reporter Tom Browne has revealed that Merrett sent a text to Hird to clarify that position.

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“Zach Merrett reached out to James Hird and supported Hird’s determination to return as coach,” Browne said.

“I’m told Merrett (texted Hird and) said his lunch remarks were taken out of context and that he would be delighted if the Bombers legend landed the role.”

Essendon interviews James Hird for a top job.

Essendon interviews James Hird for a top job.

Hird was officially interviewed by the club’s subcommittee on Tuesday, confirming weeks of speculation that he would be considered for the role.

He was first appointed Essendon manager in 2010 but has not held a managerial post since retiring from his post in the 2015 season. His retirement comes after serving a 12-month ban for his role in the club’s drug saga.

Following Hird’s interview in Essendon, club star and Channel 7 presenter Tim Watson warned of the romantic lure of re-appointing Hird.

“I think for a lot of people it would push back all the things that happened and transpired during that time that he was there as a coach,” Watson told SEN.

“He hasn’t coached since 2015, he wasn’t a successful coach when he was a coach despite there being these unusual circumstances.

“But maybe the sum of his experiences outside of football and what he does has allowed him to develop unique managerial skills.

“He’s a super intelligent guy and all of that would be revealed through the interview process. It gives this group someone else to interview, but also someone else to measure the other candidates against.”

James Hird watches the Round 13 game between North Melbourne and the GWS Giants at Marvel Stadium June 12. Recognition: AFL photos via Getty Images

Watson said he would be shocked if the selection committee chose Hird as their man, but nonetheless hailed Hird’s courage in raising his hand.

“I have to say I would be more than surprised if he became coach of Essendon Football Club but I’m delighted that he’s part of the process and has the courage to reach out and even stand up and even walk away (with it)” said Watson.

St Kilda’s senior assistant Brendon Lade made a surprise shortlist, 7NEWS reporter Mitch Cleary revealed on Tuesday, while Melbourne assistant Yze remains the front-runner. Don Pyke and Dean Solomon are also there.

Melbourne assistant Adem Yze is still the front runner for the Essendon job. Recognition: Darrian Traynor/AFL photos/Getty Images

The Bombers’ coaching sub-committee consists of football boss Josh Mahoney, current board member Dorothy Hisgrove, four-time Hawthorn Premiership star Jordan Lewis, ex-Carlton coach Robert Walls, Melbourne Vixens netball coach Simone McKinnis, people and culture expert and former NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn.

When asked directly whether to be impartial in considering Hird’s past, Lewis said the panel must be “with every candidate”.

“There were candidates today that I had personal relationships with that I dealt with at certain clubs,” he told AFL 360.

“So there are certain elements, whether it’s emotional or interactive, whatever it is – you have to get it out of that lens.

“I think all the panellists were really impressed with the presentations today.”

Mitch Cleary with the latest on Geelong and Brisbane.

Mitch Cleary with the latest on Geelong and Brisbane. Zach Merrett reaches out to James Hird to clarify report suggesting Merrett didn’t want Hird to coach Essendon

James Brien

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