Sport AFL James Hird will not return until 2015
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James Hird will not return until 2015

James Hird
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James Hird will not return to the Essendon coaches’ box  or have an active presence at club training before 2015.

The club this morning released a statement confirming the arrangements for Hird’s return as senior coach following his 12 month suspension for his role in the Essendon supplements program.

James Hird, who had returned early from a study tour in France, said in a statement that he did not want to “act as a distraction”.

“As much as I would dearly love to have jumped straight back into working with the team, I am determined that whatever role I play should in no way act as a distraction from the 2014 campaign,” Hird said

“I would like to congratulate the club on what has been achieved so far this year. In very tough circumstances, the Club has demonstrated great strength and resilience.

“As I will not be making any further public comments in relation to any matter, including the Federal Court case, I ask the media respect the privacy of my family– I know you all have jobs to do but given that I will not be making any comment on anything, I ask you to please respect my privacy.”

Essendon chairman Paul Little said the decision was made “in the best interests of the club”.

“Earlier this week I met with James, general manager of football performance Neil Craig, CEO Xavier Campbell and 2014 senior coach Mark Thompson to discuss what is in the best interest of the club and more specifically the playing group, as we prepare for what we all hope will be an active finals campaign,” Little said.

“As a result, we have all agreed that when James is eligible to return to the club on 25 August, James’ focus will be entirely on the 2015 season – he will not be in the coaching box or have an active coaching role at training.”

Hird will spend the time between the end of his suspension on August 25 and next season away from the club planning the upcoming pre-season, list management and recruiting.

Yesterday Fairfax reported Hird as “keen to return” to the club pending a discussion with coach Mark Thompson.

“I haven’t caught up with Bomber yet, but we’ll catch up now I’m back and I look forward to getting back to the club as soon as I can,” Hird said outside his Toorak home.