Legendary AFL coach Mick Malthouse says he has a proposal to coach the banned past and present Essendon players through their year-long suspension away from their clubs.
The banned players, found guilty of anti-doping violations in 2012, will miss the entire 2016 season and aren’t allowed to train at their clubs.
Of the 34 banned players, 12 are still at Essendon and five are at other AFL clubs.
They can’t interact with coaches, fitness staff or anyone involved with clubs and have severe restrictions on who they can train with and where they can do it.
Malthouse, who was sacked by Carlton last year, says he has a solution.
As a highly-regarded coach outside the AFL system, Malthouse is a clean candidate to mentor any banned players that want his guidance.
He and long-time fitness offsider David Buttifant have custom-designed a program to ensure the suspended footballers can hit the ground running when their bans expire.
“It can happen if you get the right people in place,” Malthouse told Melbourne radio station SEN.
Malthouse cited Ahmed Saad as case study in the dangers of being cast adrift outside the AFL system.
Saad was banned for 18 months after consuming a banned energy drink.
While he was re-drafted and returned to play four games last year for St Kilda, Malthouse said the ban effectively ended his career.
The Saints delisted Saad at the end of last season.
“He trained by himself … I think the isolation had a massive affect on his ability to pick up the game again and get back into the game,” he said.
“The penalty was almost a lifetime AFL penalty, he just didn’t cope.”
Malthouse – who has coached more games of VFL/AFL football than anyone else – said he needed approval from a range of stakeholders to get the go-ahead.
“It has to be a gathering of people from the PA, Essendon if they’re allowed to, player-managers and players,” he said.
“The (players) need to study, they need to be involved with the community, they need to keep up with the game, they certainly need to train.
“(Buttifant and I have) got enough connections where we can actually help these lads through the next seven or eight months.
“The proposal is to get them to a position whereby September, maybe late August depending on where Essendon see it … they’re in a good mental state (and) they’ve had a good physical preparation.”