Football giant returns to the AFL: Hird joins GWS in leadership role

James Hird has returned to AFL football, taking up a leadership role at Greater Western Sydney alongside assistant coach and former Essendon teammate Mark McVeigh.

The Giants announced on Tuesday night that the Australian Football Hall of Famer would make his football return “in a new role” with the club.

James Hird has taken on a part-time leadership role with the GWS Giants.Credit:Photo: GWS Giants

Hird said he was looking forward to stepping back into the AFL industry as a part-time leadership consultant with the league’s newest club.

“It probably came about through Matt de Boer actually, I had got to know him quite well through some work away from the club and he invited me to come down and have lunch with the players while the team were in Melbourne last year,” the 48-year-old said in a GWS statement.

“Mark McVeigh then asked if I would come and speak to the group about playing football in Melbourne, my experiences in the AFL, and impart some of my life journey. For younger players it’s good to hear, but also for senior players.

“Getting to know Leon [Giants coach Leon Cameron], I’ve had a huge amount of respect for him over a very long period of time, so getting the chance to work with him was something I was really looking forward to.

“It’s a part-time role, and very much around the leadership group but also around the emerging leaders and sharing my experiences in football and trying to get them to lead and encourage and work hard on that side of things.”

Hird spoke to the GWS playing group during their time in the Melbourne last year after they relocated from NSW due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Hird, a Brownlow medallist, Norm Smith medallist, and five-time All-Australian resigned as Essendon coach in 2015 after his role in the supplements saga and hasn’t held a coaching position with an AFL club since.

He played 253 games with the Bombers, winning two flags – including one as skipper. He was named at No. 3 in the ‘Champions of Essendon’ list behind Dick Reynolds and John Coleman.

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