Matthew Egan knows better than most what James Hird meant when the departing Essendon coach spoke about AFL adversity.
Egan will take over from Hird as the Bombers’ interim senior coach for the rest of this season.
In an emotional farewell media conference on Tuesday, Hird said the Bombers must rise above their difficulties.
Essendon are in the depths of a woeful season and it was that poor form, plus the ongoing dramas of the supplements scandal, that led to Hird’s departure.
“Adversity is a friend who defines what we are,” Hird said.
“The adversity we have struggled through has not broken us, so I don’t believe we have failed.”
Egan’s booming AFL playing career ended abruptly because of a foot injury.
The Geelong defender’s form in 2007 would earn him All Australian selection.
But in round 22 that year, he fractured the navicular bone in his right foot while contesting a mark.
He never played another AFL game, missing out on Geelong’s three premierships from 2007-11.
After two seasons as an assistant coach with the Cats, Egan has worked under Hird at Essendon since late 2011.
At first glance the 32-year-old was a surprise choice to coach the senior team for the rest of this season.
Senior assistant Mark Harvey, football department manager Neil Craig and development coach Mark Neeld all have senior coaching experience – Egan has none.
But Essendon great Matthew Lloyd said Egan had done a great job as backline coach and is regarded highly at the club.
The Bombers are coming off a 112-point thumping from Adelaide and Egan must somehow rally them for Saturday’s away match against Gold Coast.
Star utility Brendon Goddard was asked if there was guilt among the players about the poor form that contributed to Hird’s demise as Essendon coach.
“There always has to be, especially for a guy that’s loved and respected and admired (in) the playing group and the footy club,” Goddard told Fox Footy’s AFL 360.
“We didn’t help the cause, because essentially if we were sitting with 14 wins on the board, I probably wouldn’t be standing here talking to you.
“We will move on pretty quickly, as harsh as that may sound, but that’s what James would want.”