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Making a statement: Worsfold urges ‘Essendon people’ to embrace Rutten

“The reference was that it’s hard work to win a premiership and it doesn’t happen overnight,” he said.

“I’ve watched Damien Hardwick do such a great job at the Richmond Football Club starting back in 2010 but it took him seven or eight years to eventually get that premiership.

Bombers coach John Worsfold (left) with his successor Ben Rutten.

Bombers coach John Worsfold (left) with his successor Ben Rutten.Credit:Getty Images

“In that period there was a massive call to change everything, to change the coach, change the board, and they stuck at it.

“I would just like to implore Essendon people to keep backing the club, to back Ben Rutten, to back this playing group to take them forward. It will be tough and there’s a lot of hard work to do but I know they’re up for it.”

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Worsfold, who has also been criticised by club great Matthew Lloyd for changing his stance on where he felt the playing list was at in terms of challenging for a premiership, opened up on why he had accepted the Bombers’ job amid the fall-out of the supplements saga that haunts the club to this day.

“I love this game of AFL and I owe it a lot. It’s been a massive part of my life for the last 34 years, so far,” he said in a prepared statement.

“For those of you who know me will always know that I play and coach with everything I’ve got. I’m extremely passionate about anything I do and I certainly care. I am also in introvert and I understand that this passion doesn’t always come through, especially in press conferences – sorry guys [the media].

“I know I’m much better at playing the game rather than just talking about it. So let me be really clear to all Essendon people, which includes staff, players, members, coteries and our supporters.

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“I joined our club five years ago because I felt for what it was going through and I thought I could help. Wins and losses are important but my great love of the game comes from the people. I saw players hurting, I heard from supporters that were hurting, the club was hurting. I wanted to be part of the club bouncing back, to be part of footy being fun again at the Essendon Football Club.

“I had so much respect for the club that I joined to be part of that fightback. I respect the Essendon Football Club family and I can’t thank you enough for all your loyalty and support for our club and for the players through the toughest of times.”

Worsfold insisted Rutten, a former Richmond assistant coach, was the right man to take charge and that was why he had agreed to a succession plan. The Bombers have not won a final since 2004.

“I believe Ben has learned and grown this year and is now better placed to take the club forward. As you all get to know him you will respect him as much as myself and the players do,” he said.

“The Essendon playing group have been through two massive transitions in my short time at the football club. I also believe really strongly in these young men I know so well. I respect that there will be those who don’t share my confidence. The future will reveal the reality and I’m looking forward to watching that.”

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