Essendon Coach James Hird.
Essendon Coach James Hird. Vince Caligiuri / Getty Images

Eagles coach feels for Hird after AFL deals with Bombers issue

IPSWICH Eagles coach Mick Rush feels most sympathy for suspended James Hird having seen the punishment the AFL handed to Essendon.

Like many Aussie rules fans, Rush is eager to hear from controversial sports scientist Stephen Dank, who has remained tight-lipped about what really happened at the AFL club.

"My overall thinking was the dealing with Hirdie was fairly harsh," Rush said of his 12 month suspension.

"The rest of it, as far as the sanctions on the club, are probably reasonable.

"It's something they (the AFL) had to do and had to deal with."

Rush understands how tough it must have been for Hird overseeing the Bombers through the supplement program crisis.

"I think he has done an outstanding job with that team," Rush said.

"Just keeping them focused.

"If you watch them play, there is great loyalty to him, not just the players but the whole club and supporters. That's something he can hang his hat on."

Rush said Hird would leave a legacy, despite what has been said about him in recent months.

"He just made the decision that he needed to do it for the club to move on and for the AFL to move on," Rush said.

The Ipswich mentor said Essendon had at least chased a finals spot this season, unlike the Melbourne Storm and Canterbury Bulldogs teams who had all their points docked and some premierships removed during rugby league salary cap scandals.

"They were playing for nothing for a whole year," Rush said.

"Essendon at least haven't known until the last round that they are not playing for points."

At Eagles level in the SEQAFL competition, Rush said he would make a decision about his coaching future after the club's presentation night next month.

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