Essendon coach James Hird has backed Brendon Goddard’s temperamental on-field streak, saying it shows the former St Kilda player is passionate about AFL success.
Goddard is the first player to switch clubs under free agency and also the biggest name among those who satisfy the new system’s criteria.
He achieved All-Australian honours in 2009-10, but Goddard’s form has not been quite as stellar over the last two seasons.
One obvious reason is that opposition players are putting more work into him and Goddard’s frustration can boil over.
“I like his temperament, because what it says to me is he’s desperate to be a winner,” Hird said.
“I was criticised occasionally for my temperament off the field.
“He wears his heart on his sleeve when he plays and that really appeals to me.”
Goddard is overseas on holiday and will meet his new teammates at an early-November training camp in Colorado.
A day after St Kilda let the star utility go, Hird insisted the move was about opportunity for Goddard.
The Saints are just as adamant that nothing more than money was behind the decision.
Goddard joined Essendon on a four-year deal worth about $2.8 million, while the Saints were not prepared to offer him more than three years.
“I don’t want to speak for … St Kilda, but I do know Brendon has come for opportunity,” Hird said.
The Bombers also strongly denied a report that said former Essendon chairman Ray Horsburgh had approached the club about offering Goddard a job.
The AFL prohibits third-party deals in free agency signings.
“This process has been something we’re really proud of, obviously we’re proud of the outcome,” said Essendon chief executive Ian Robson.
“But we’re also very proud of the tight manner in which we’ve gone about it.
“We were always very, very (mindful) of Brendon as an individual, but (also) Brendon’s contribution to St Kilda and we would like to think we’ve demonstrated complete respect for them and him.
“The process we followed was very, very tight and it did not involve contact, communication financial assistance, in any way, from a third party.”
Goddard told the Essendon website that he acknowledged many Saints fans would be upset with the move.
“Career decisions are always difficult and this has certainly been the case for me,” he said.
“I’d like to thank St Kilda for everything, especially my teammates, many of who will always be close friends away from the football field.
“I appreciate that many St Kilda supporters will be disappointed with my decision, but I hope they respect it.”