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The Age

Crows set to name Ayres

Date: 30/08/1999
Words: 530
          Publication: The Age
Section: Sport
Page: 3
Geelong coach Gary Ayres remained non-committal about his future last night, but all the indications pointed to him leaving the club and taking up Adelaide's lucrative three-year offer.

At his media conference yesterday after the Cats' 51-point defeat of Fremantle, Ayres said he was still making up his mind and would inform the Geelong administration of his decision within the next couple of days. He has one year of his contract to run at Shell Stadium.

``What I'm going to do now is go away and weigh up my options," Ayres said, not just once but in response to almost every question about his plans.

However, an Adelaide source last night told The Age that although nothing had been signed, the Crows expect Ayres to be named as Blight's replacement either tomorrow or Wednesday.

The appearance at Shell Stadium last night of former West Coast captain John Worsfold fanned speculation that the Cats were already in the process of formulating contingency plans should Ayres decide to leave.

Worsfold, who had been tipped by Cats' chief executive Brian Cook earlier in the day as a possible replacement for Ayres, was at the ground with his wife, Georgie, and Cook's wife, Annette.

Speaking on 3LO before yesterday's match, Ayres was asked whether he could see John Worsfold coaching Geelong next year. He replied: ``You'd have to speak to Brian Cook about that."

The former Eagles strongman, who has been out of the game for a year, has expressed an interest in coaching and the Geelong job would hold a definite appeal given that Cook, a long-time ally of Worsfold's when he was chief executive at West Coast, is now at the helm at Shell Stadium.

It is believed he and Cook, and their wives, had dinner together last night after a Geelong board meeting that was devoted exclusively to the coaching issue. Ayres spoke to the players, and coaching staff, at a meeting on Saturday where he gave no indication about which way he was leaning.

One of club's longest-serving players, onballer Peter Riccardi, said the team was still in the dark about who would be coaching it next season. ``He (Ayres) told us he was going to weigh up his options," said Riccardi. ``So at this stage we don't know which road he'll take.

``If he stays it's good for us because he's been here for five years now and we know the way he wants us to play. If he goes, it'll be disappointing, but I suppose he's got to look after his own future. We'll just have to start again under a new coach."

Meanwhile, the future of former captain Barry Stoneham was still unclear last night. Ayres said he had discussed Stoneham's future with him on Monday but did not reveal what was said.

Teammate Tim McGrath said Stoneham had not yet told the players his intentions. ``That's up to Bazza. He clearly should play next year, he's been in fantastic form. We can't really influence what he's going to do but we'd love to have Bazza next year," he said.

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