New Essendon coach John Worsfold says he is desperate to restore passion in his players as the ASADA supplements scandal looks to be coming to an end.
The Bombers looked drained, mentally and physically, by the ongoing saga during a tough 2015 season in which they won just six matches and finished 15th.
Their poor form led to the departure of club favourite James Hird as coach, with Matthew Egan taking the role on an interim basis.
But Worsfold was announced as Essendon’s new coach on Monday, following weeks of speculation, and has signed a three-year deal.
The 47-year-old – who coached the West Coast Eagles from 2002 to 2013 and won a premiership in 2006 – returned to AFL football this season at Adelaide.
Worsfold became the club’s coaching director, guiding interim appointment Scott Camporeale after the tragic passing of Phil Walsh, before moving back into the senior coaching ranks.
And one of his first aims in his new role is getting the Essendon players excited about playing football again.
“They (players) probably haven’t that love of the game that they should have. I want to make sure they love turning up to training and they love playing for the Essendon Football Club,” he told reporters.
“The aim is to get this group playing unhindered, both physically and mentally.”
He said his time at the Crows re-ignited his interest in an AFL role and, in a sign of confidence, said he could lead the Bombers to a premiership if they gave him time.
“It’s a solid list. It’s got some good, mature players on it and some really good young players coming through,” he said.
“It’s got some gaps that we need to address (though).
“We may be able to specifically fill those spots via the trade. I’ll definitely, over the next two weeks, be putting some time into that.”
“If they give me enough time, we’ll get there (winning a premiership). It might be done in three years, it might take four.”
Worsfold said he was more than comfortable with a three-year contract and backed it to be extended.
“My last couple of contracts with West Coast, I only wanted two-year deals,” he said.
“I didn’t want to sign a long-term contract knowing it wears you down.
“I back myself in that a three-year deal…I’m more than comfortable that I’ll be doing a good enough job that we’ll want to extend it out.
“I’m pretty intense in terms of trying to do the best possible job we can do. The game is supposed to be fun for us all – but we are at the elite level. There’s no shortcuts involved.
“I’ll be aiming to do the best possible job. I’ll be part of a very successful club, hopefully. Essendon has got great tradition.”
Earlier in the day, in a video to the club’s members, Worsfold spoke of his excitement at taking the role.
“I’m really proud and excited to be appointed senior coach of your footy club,” he said.
“It’s a great opportunity to step in and help build the next premiership team of the Essendon Football Club.
“It’s got a great history, but we really want to look forward now and focus on the future.”