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The Age

For a coach, they could do Worsfold

Date: 10/08/2001
Words: 642
          Publication: The Age
Section: Sport
Page: 3
When John Worsfold played for West Coast, he played for keeps. He was tough, ruthless and uncompromising. All that mattered was that his team won. And it did most times.

Captaining his Eagles to two premierships in the early '90s ensured he would have a permanent and respected place in AFL football. In Western Australia he was, still is and always will be a revered figure.

With both the Dockers and West Coast struggling, it is only natural that his name has been touted as a potential coach. In fact, Worsfold's name seems to appear whenever there is a coaching vacancy, no matter where it is. It did down at Moorabbin when Malcolm Blight left.

Some folk have suggested that Worsfold is being seen to put his hand up for each and any coaching position, that he is keen to coach no matter what the circumstances.

Those who think that are on the wrong track. Most of us see Worsfold as the totally fearless half-back flanker who would stop at nothing to ensure team success.

While that picture was true, there is much, much more to the man. Off field, Worsfold is a quiet, polite, strong-principled young man who is totally loyal and committed to the causes he pursues. And that approach has brought success on and off the field.

Worsfold saw the building of West Coast under three very different coaches. Ron Alexander kicked things off in '87, he was replaced by local legend John Todd, and Mick Malthouse, of course, took the reins for 10years of consecutive finals appearances.

While Worsfold pursued an AFL career, he also studied. He became a qualified pharmacist. When his career finished at the end of 1998, a year in the media followed. Worsfold proved to be an astute and polished media performer. But deep down, the coaching bug was starting to grow.

The former Eagles skipper could have taken the easy way out and accepted an assistants role at either Perth club, as both were desperate to have him. But Worsfold knew that by doing that he would be selling himself short.

He knew he had to leave Western Australia and gain experience with a successful club in Melbourne.

So two years ago he accepted an assistant coaching role with Carlton. It takes courage to leave behind businesses, a beautiful home, a close, tight family and a city where you are hero worshipped, but courage is something Worsfold has never lacked.

Since arriving at Carlton, Worsfold has worked under two of the best senior coaches you could wish to learn from, David Parkin and Wayne Brittain.

Coupled with that has been exposure to fertile young football brains in co-coaches Ross Lyon, Barry Mitchell, Stephen Kernahan and Greg Williams. Mixing with these minds at match committee and planning meetings and being able to see, live, several AFL games each weekend, is something Worsfold would have been denied had he stayed in Perth.

At Carlton, Worsfold's main role is defensive coach. He is also used as a regular club spokesman in interviews and assessments on the team's performance.

What he doesn't get a chance to do is to actually coach a team. And that is the bane of many assistant coaches. While they are heavily involved, they never get to really experience what true coaching is, and that is having full responsibility for a team.

Hands-on coaching of a team eventually sorts out the coaching pretenders from the coaching contenders. I have no doubt Worsfold is a genuine coaching contender.

He is smart enough to bide his time and build his coaching repertoire. He knows a first-time senior coaching appointment makes or breaks a coaching career. First-time failures never surface again.

For that reason, he will be selective when his time comes.

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