The 17 active AFL players banned as a result of the Essendon drug saga have knocked back Mick Malthouse’s offer to coach them this season.
While the majority of players will still train together throughout the year, they have opted against doing so under the former Footscray, West Coast, Collingwood and Carlton coach and his long-time fitness trainer David Buttifant.
The pair had reportedly wanted more than $1 million for the job.
“I wish them all the best, no worries to me. I understand their plight to get through the year,” Malthouse told Fairfax Media.
Given Malthouse currently has no official links to the AFL or any of its clubs, he would have been free to coach the exiled players under WADA rules.
The three-time premiership-winning coach met with a number of players last week.
However it is believed the Essendon contracted players drove the decision to knock back the offer.
While most players will train through the banned period, some will spend their time overseas or focus on their careers after football through study.
Melbourne’s Jake Melksham will be rested from training until the middle of the season, while St Kilda recruit Jake Carlisle is likely to focus on his career in construction.