Worsfold mellows on AFL rival approaches

Essendon coach John Worsfold has changed his view on AFL rivals expressing interest in his banned Bomber fleet, declaring it par for the course.

In June, Worsfold was outraged by Melbourne’s interest in Michael Hibberd, calling it “outside the laws of the game”.

In light of Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge declaring his interest in “very, very good player” Michael Hurley on Tuesday, another hands-off warning from Worsfold could have been expected.

But the former West Coast coach has mellowed.

Worsfold is now cool and calm about any approaches, saying his hands-off warning to Melbourne was “just a little bit of an over-reaction from me”.

“I would expect that it wouldn’t just be the Western Bulldogs that are interested in Michael Hurley,” he said on Wednesday.

“If it is, that’s a bonus. I’d expect there’d be plenty more clubs with plenty of interest because he’s a star player.

“But I’m really confident he’ll be playing for Essendon.”

Worsfold said as time went on, he expected it would be played out more publicly and he was comfortable with that.

“That’s the industry, that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

“There’ll be talk about whether Jobe (Watson) will play on, whether Michael Hibberd is still at the club.

“Until they’re finalised that will go on.”

The uncertainty around the players banned for the 2016 season under anti-doping breaches has created a challenging situation for Worsfold.

Ben Howlett, Tayte Pears, Brent Stanton and Hurley, Watson and Hibberd are yet to make clear where they’ll be in 2017.

The uncertainty will have flow-on effects for Adam Cooney, who is out of contract at year’s end.

Worsfold said he had started a conversation with the 2008 Brownlow Medalist about his future but wouldn’t be able to finish it until knowing more about the plans of his senior banned players.

“That’s one of the factors, absolutely,” he said.

“The number one thing is whether Adam Cooney believes he’s physically and mentally capable of playing out another season at AFL level.”

“If that’s the case then he’s on our list of what our squad might look like next year.

“How many players we need to move off our list to move forward is a real unknown to us.”

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