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Worsfold moves closer to deal

By Kim Hagdorn
20 June 2011 07:20AM EST

A new beginning for the West Coast Eagles is one of the AFLís biggest stories this year and coach John Worsfold should earn a new contract.

But, there’s an eerie silence surrounding one significant issue in the unexpected regeneration of West Coast as a serious finals candidate.

Any debate on whether the coach and one of the decorated club’s favourite sons deserves a contract extension seems to have gone deafeningly silent.

West Coast is now virtually assured of finals in September for the first time since 2007 and against pretty much all expectation heading into the last year of Worsfold’s current contract.

That being the case, there is also virtually no chance that the accomplished Eagles premiership captain of 1992 and ’94 and flag winning coach of 2006, now doesn’t command a new deal.

West Coast have successfully implemented a playing brand to genuinely challenge the competition's best outfits and have their most important components available with a relatively healthy list of personnel.

If Worsfold, 42, is to be extended it should be for at least two more seasons and probably even a third through until the end of 2014.

It is understood that the 209-game hard-core defender wants a new three-year contract to continue the resurrection of his playing group that had been written off as a potential force in the dying stages of Worsfold’s decade-long reign.

Worsfold genuinely believes he is building toward winning a second flag and fourth within his club’s 25-year existence with his current playing group.

He has firmly believed in his troops throughout the past two seasons despite on-going failings and a hefty injury toll in 2010 and detractors mounting against his claims to stay at the helm.

The length of any new agreement will become the biggest debating point, similar to around about this time two years ago when Worsfold wanted three more seasons and only won a two-year extension.

A horribly untimely and unacceptable 15-point Round 12 loss to cellar-dwellers Richmond in Melbourne in fallen champion’s Ben Cousins first game back against his old club and Jade Rawlings first as caretaker Tigers coach on the eve of closing contract discussions probably cost Worsfold a third season instead of an extension only until the end of 2011.

Worsfold started his 2011 premiership season on the back of just four wins and an unsavoury last-place finish for the first time in West Coast’s history last year.

More importantly though it is on the back of a blind faith that he would mould his current group of players into significant flag candidates.

Worsfold has completely transformed his troops with their playing style, as well as fitness and health levels to the extent that the rejuvenated West Coast are in firm contention to even finish in the top four.

Sure, a revival is significantly aided with a re-birth of proven champions Dean Cox to lead the ruck, Daniel Kerr and Darren Glass, as well as further evolution of match-winning forwards Josh Kennedy and Mark LeCras, reliable clearances from Matthew Priddis and classy youngsters Luke Shuey and Jack Darling.

Worsfold, laboriously, assured all who would listen that he could rebuild his outfit into a premiership chance if faith he had in the players was rewarded with faith from his fans and more importantly his board of management.

West Coast’s sincerity as final-four chances will be more than likely resolved over the next month.

The Eagles reincarnation confronts raging glamour side Carlton, led by former Eagles champion Chris Judd and then Geelong, St Kilda, Fremantle and Western Bulldogs in four straight big occasion outings after a Round 15 bye.

West Coast management, especially front-end spokesmen chairman Alan Cransberg and long serving chief executive Trevor Nisbett insist that Worsfold’s contract talks will stay on hold until after the conclusion of this season.

That’s hardly going to wash with Worsfold devotees.

He has already won eight games and lost four with a distinct new defensive pressure all over the ground that rivals some of the best current AFL exponents of the “forward press” and has established a healthy playing list in conjunction with his support and sports science staff.

If Worsfold manages a win or few over the next five outings and a finals return is assured, as well as a top-four finish staying on the cards or even a fifth or sixth-place finish and a home final in the opening week of September play-offs, it becomes impossible to ignore genuine claims to a new contract.

That’s if it hasn’t already been stamped as “must be reappointed”.

Worsfold’s current plight is at an opposite end of the scales for out-of-contract Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade and Adelaide’s Neil Craig.

Bulldogs management must decide on merits of confirming that Eade is the right coach to rebuild their finals chances over the next two to three seasons in similar manner that West Coast stayed loyal to Worsfold’s rejuvenation program two years ago.

If Dogs governors decide Eade is not the best coach for that project then he won’t continue beyond this season.

Conversely, he is eminently well qualified to lead a complete rebuilding project at Whitten Oval.

Craig, after eight seasons at the helm, appears to be at the end of his run and a fresh voice is apparently in need around the Crows nest.

Crows management, though, like West Coast and Bulldogs, could assist replenishment strategies at their clubs with earlier rather than later announcements of their coach’s future.

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Add your comment... Comments (2)
Michael 22 June 2011 1:05PM

Woosha has repeatedly said that he isn't interested in contract talks until after the season is over.

Alissa 23 June 2011 12:51AM

Yes, Michael, as the author mentioned in the article. Your point?