Worsfold can turn Dons around: Goddard

A 90-minute chat with incoming Essendon coach John Worsfold was all senior player Brendon Goddard needed to be convinced the beleaguered AFL club had found the right man to turn its fortunes around.

Since Goddard arrived at Essendon in the 2013 off-season, very little has gone right for the former heavyweights.

A drugs scandal hit the club as soon as Goddard stepped through the front door, and that fight is ongoing – with a WADA appeal expected to be finalised before Christmas.

That had obvious ramifications for the club and, combined with struggles on the field, it led to the resignation of favourite son James Hird midway through their troubled 2015 campaign.

Worsfold, the premiership-winning coach with West Coast, has been parachuted in to fix the club’s woes and Goddard believes he has the drive and skills to turn things around.

Goddard, in Dublin to play in Saturday’s International Rules one-off Test with Ireland, sat down with Worsfold “for a good hour and a half” at the end of the season and was immediately impressed.

He’d campaigned for an experienced coach to take over for the 2016 season and believes the change is already being felt at Windy Hill.

“I said publicly during the year that I’d like to see an experienced coach, hinting towards John who was the main candidate that was more experienced,” Goddard said.

“I think he’s the right guy for the job and just within the short time he has been, I know there’s a lot of changes have been made and the club is heading in a better direction and a good direction.”

Goddard said it had been good to get away on the Australian tour with Essendon teammates Dustin Fletcher and Dyson Heppell, saying the change in environment was providing welcome relief after three difficult years.

“Particularly the year we had and the three years previous to that, it’s good to get away in a more relaxed environment with the three of us instead of a footy environment where we’re living in the bubble in Melbourne,” he said.

“It’s become quite difficult.”

While one of the younger members of the Australian squad at 23, Heppell is seen as a future skipper at Essendon.

He’s provided most of the promise out of a gloomy few seasons and both Fletcher and Goddard tipped he would continue to blossom under Worsfold’s tutelage.

“He’s a star in his own right but he’s an up-and-coming leader and he takes everything in his stride,” Goddard said.

“He’s sitting back but he’ll be taking a lot on board because that’s just in his nature.”

Added Fletcher: “It’s been a tough few years for Essendon and him but he just keeps growing as a leader year by year.

“I’m not sure if he’s going to be captain this year or in the future, but there’s no doubt he’ll make a great one.”

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