New Essendon AFL coach John Worsfold has revealed he never feared that explosive allegations made by former West Coast player Daniel Chick would derail his bid for the Bombers’ top job.
Chick made headlines just days before the AFL grand final when he alleged there was a widespread drug culture at the Eagles under Worsfold’s watch.
“My understanding is that there were fairly intelligent people involved in the selection process who would have assessed what those comments meant and, quite rightly, would have questioned what they meant,” Worsfold said on Monday.
“I believe that happened and I believe they got the right answer.”
Essendon’s coaching selection panel included chief executive Xavier Campbell, former Hawthorn player Brad Sewell, former Melbourne coach Neale Daniher, ex-Essendon player Chris Heffernan and the club’s people and culture manager Lisa Lawry.
“We spoke with multiple stakeholders involved with West Coast during that time,” Campbell said.
“We spoke with the AFL and we spoke with individuals involved in the review (into the Eagles).
“We took great comfort from that and we don’t have any issues.”
Worsfold said that he was surprised to hear of Chick’s allegations as he was unaware of any illegal activities at the club but agreed a cultural change was required, and had been achieved, during his tenure.
Despite the potentially damaging nature of the comments for his coaching aspirations, Worsfold said that Chick’s welfare was the main concern in the aftermath of the controversy.
“I haven’t had direct contact with Daniel but I understand he’s hurting fairly severely from everything that’s happened and I hope that he’s well,” he said.
“It’s hard for me to comment because I haven’t spoken to him but I know the publicity from it has rocked him.
“He hasn’t been that healthy over a number of years so I think it’s a challenging time for him, I feel for him, and I hope he comes out of it OK.”
West Coast addressed the issue in a statement released ahead of the grand final in which they expressed their extreme disappointment at the content, timing and publication of the allegations that they labelled unsubstantiated.
Eagles chief executive Trevor Nisbett said West Coast would not rule out legal action against Chick.
“We’re very clear on what we believe in,” Nisbett said.
“Our medical staff are extremely offended with those comments made by Daniel.
“We think we’ve dealt with it as best we can, and we’ll leave it at that.
“We’ll move on to the future.
“What happened nine years ago in some people’s eyes – we’ve dealt with.”