Essendon star Brendon Goddard has hailed James Hird as a potentially great AFL coach and hopes his departure is the right decision.
Goddard has admitted to shock and disappointment that Hird has left, adding the players must rally quickly ahead of Saturday’s match against Gold Coast.
While he has no doubts about joining Essendon from St Kilda in late 2012, he admitted what has happened at the Bombers since has been a bitter pill to swallow.
But despite the supplements saga, Goddard has no regrets about switching clubs and is rich in his praise of Hird.
“I’ve never doubted him from the day … we (first) had discussions of moving to Essendon,” Goddard told Fox Footy’s AFL 360.
“I still believe he’s a good coach, with the potential to be a great coach.
“James is a good man – I respect him as much as any person I know.”
Goddard and his teammates were having dinner on Tuesday night as they try to process the day’s tumultuous news.
“It was a fair shock to most of the boys,” Goddard said of Hird breaking the news to them.
“It was pretty hard to take and James was obviously quite emotional, as he was at the press conference.
“He had our continued support all the way through and that never wavered.”
Goddard admitted to some misgivings about Hird’s departure.
“Right now, it’s pretty raw,” he said.
“(The) close relationship as I had with James, and the rest of the playing group, it’s obviously disappointing … I’m not going to lie about that.
“It will provide some clear air and hopefully it is the right decision.”
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,” he said.
“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.”