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Aussie Rules: Five contenders for the Essendon job

Essendon are on the look-out for a new head coach after parting company with Ben Rutten and a host of top names are already in the frame.

The Bombers had a disastrous 2022 campaign when finishing 15th on the AFL ladder with just seven wins to their name.

This after they finished in finals in 2021. So it came as no real surprise when on Sunday Essendon announced that Rutten would be leaving the role he has held for the last two seasons.

It has also been revealed that Essendon made a late play to get Alastair Clarkson on board as their new coach but it came too late as the former Hawthorn boss had already agreed to take the North Melbourne job.

So with Clarkson out of the picture, who will the Bombers turn to?

The Powers that be have confirmed they want someone with experience to get the club back on track and there are a number of suitable candidates.

They have also said they want to make an appointment before the trade and draft periods in a month and it is crucial they get this next appointment right.

So let’s take a look at the main contenders.

Ross Lyon

It is no surprise to see Lyon linked as he has also been mentioned with jobs at Greater Western Sydney and North Melbourne.

Lyon is vastly experienced and would tick a lot of boxes for the Bombers. He enjoyed success with both St Kilda and Fremantle and has shown he can turnaround a club’s fortunes very quickly.

He would also be able to sort out Essendon’s defence and he is sure to be high on the wanted list. The biggest issue for Essendon could be trying to lure Lyon back into coaching.

Lyon is excelling during his media work after leaving Fremantle in 2019 and could take some persuading to give it up. However he has not ruled out making a return and the Essendon job could be tempting.

Ken Hinkley

Hinkley is currently the head coach of Port Adelaide and is under contract with the Power until the end of the 2023 AFL season.

However that has not stopped reports he could be set for an early exit following a very disappointing season at the Adelaide Oval.
Hinkley’s coaching credentials cannot be questioned after guiding Port Adelaide to numerous finals campaigns and also the minor premiership in 2020.

It has been suggested that a change in scenery could be needed for Hinkley and he is just the kind of experienced head the Bombers would like.

Power president David Koch has slammed reports linking Hinkley with a move but that may not stop the Bombers from making a move.

Don Pyke

Pyke is another experienced campaigner and showed his coaching ability when guiding the Adelaide Crows to the 2017 grand final which they lost to the Richmond Tigers.

He introduced an exciting brand of footy during his time with the Crows and that style of play would certainly excite the Essendon faithful.

Pyke is currently doing a fine job as an assistant coach with the Sydney Swans and has played a big role in helping them to third spot on the ladder this season.

Essendon could struggle to lure Pyke away from Sydney as he has suggested he loves life as an assistant coach. It remains to be seen if he will be tempted to jump back into the hot seat of being a head coach again.

Pyke was in the hunt for the Collingwood job last year but pulled out of the running.

Leon Cameron

Cameron has been out of work since parting ways with Greater Western Sydney in the early part of the 2022 AFL campaign.

Cameron is another coach who enjoyed good success during his time with a club without managing to win the premiership.

He guided GWS to the 2019 AFL grand final but they were heavily beaten by the Richmond Tigers.

Cameron has also been enjoying his work in the media since leaving the Giants but has hinted he would be open to making a return to coaching in the AFL.

Is sure to be a name that Essendon will consider as they step up their search for Rutten’s replacement.

Others in the frame

Former Essendon coaches James Hird and Kevin Sheedy have also been linked with a return to the club but it looks unlikely.

Adem Yze, who is earning a great reputation while assistant coach at Melbourne is also said to be of interest to Bombers officials. He has revealed his ambitions to one day be a senior coach and is also wanted by GWS.

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