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The Age

Eagles may have to bite bullet

Author: GREG DENHAM and MARK DUFFIELD
Date: 25/08/1999
Words: 599
          Publication: The Age
Section: Sport
Page: 3
West Coast may be forced to announce the intended departure of Mick Malthouse as early as next week in order to secure Hawthorn coach Ken Judge.

The West Coast board met in Perth yesterday. Its priorities were Malthouse's replacement and how best to recruit Judge, who has a year remaining on his contract at Glenferrie Oval.

There appears to be some urgency among Eagles officials, who are aware that there could be a push to extend Judge's contract when the Hawks' board next meets, which is likely to be tomorrow.

Since speculation began that Malthouse was planning to return to Melbourne, West Coast has remained firm that his position would be reviewed after its finals campaign ended. But it now appears that sections of the club hierarchy are pressing for an announcement to be made as early as next Monday.

Judge's season ends when Hawthorn plays Sydney at Waverley Park on Sunday, and West Coast is confident he has the grounds to leave Glenferrie Oval on amicable terms despite having a further year of his contract to serve.

The Eagles believe that while an early announcement about the end of Malthouse's 10-year reign could be a distraction during the finals, it may be necessary in order to gain the services of Judge amid senior coaching changes at up to six AFL clubs.

The anouncement is likely to have a domino effect in coaching circles, starting with Gary Ayres moving from Geelong to Hawthorn.

Ayres, who has a year of his contract to run, is also attracting interest from Adelaide. Crows officials are believed to have spoken to him yesterday, but he is still strongly fancied to join Hawthorn in a long-term deal if a cash-strapped Geelong is not prepared to offer him a significant increase in tenure.

Meanwhile, the Eagles have upped the ante in a bid to keep former captain John Worsfold at the club by offering him a full-time assistant coaching role. The offer is designed to counter a similar lure from Fremantle, which is keen to win Worsfold's services for next year.

But Geelong, the third club rumored to be pursuing Worsfold, yesterday distanced itself from suggestions he would be offered a position.

Worsfold will stay with Geelong chief executive and close friend Brian Cook this weekend after commentary duties on the game between the Cats and Fremantle at Shell Stadium.

But Cook emphasised that Worsfold would be staying there as a friend and not as a coaching applicant.

``John is a great friend and an outstanding person, and I think he will make an outstanding coach one day. Any club which gets his services will be a lucky club," Cook said. ``But our coaches here are all full-time and all are contracted for another year."

West Coast chairman Michael Smith confirmed his club's approach to Worsfold yesterday, describing the role put to the dual premiership captain as a ``significant full-time position".

It is believed the Eagles have told Worsfold he will have a hands-on coaching role with younger members of the Eagles' squad and will also be on the match committee.

The role Worsfold has been offered at Fremantle is believed to be almost identical. He would play a major role with young players in the club's squad and would also be a member of the match committee, with duties floating between host club South Fremantle and the Dockers.

 
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