John Worsfold will hand over to Ben Rutten after next season. Pic: Getty Images
John Worsfold will hand over to Ben Rutten after next season. Pic: Getty Images

Rutten to take charge as Bombers revamp coaches

ESSENDON will target premiership defender Dean Solomon as part of a revamped coaching department based around the succession plan for senior coach John Worsfold.

The Bombers announced on Tuesday that Worsfold will serve the final year of his contract in 2020, with assistant coach Ben Rutten taking over for the 2021 season.

Rutten will serve as an assistant under Worsfold next year, but will take on more responsibility on game day and game style to prepare for the top job.

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The former Crows All-Australian defender has long been considered a coach-in-waiting and his appointment as Essendon's incoming senior coach will ward off Adelaide as it searches for a replacement for Don Pyke.

After retiring at the end of 2014, Rutten became an assistant coach at Richmond before he joined Essendon at the end of 2018.

Solomon has been a long-term assistant coach at the Gold Coast Suns and has had talks with the Bombers about a return to the club where he played 209 matches, including the 2000 premiership.

If he does return, it is expected it would again be in an assistant's role.

Ben Rutten will take the reins from 2021. Pic: Getty Images
Ben Rutten will take the reins from 2021. Pic: Getty Images

The move to lure Solomon comes amid a club push to try to bring Essendon people back to the club.

Last month the Bombers announced premiership star and highly-respected assistant Blake Caracella would return next year.

Assistant Mark Harvey, another premiership great, will remain at Tullamarine next year.

The Bombers will follow in the footsteps of Collingwood, Sydney and Carlton in implementing the succession plan, with the latter two proceeding far smoother than the former.

The Essendon board ratified the succession plan yesterday on the recommendation of chief executive Xavier Campbell and football director Sean Wellman.

"My personal situation means that I can't give any guarantees about my ability to live away from my family for too much longer than I have and the next critical phase for the Essendon Football Club is to not have any stumbles in terms of following the progression we've been making over the last few years," Worsfold said.

Essendon hopes to lure club favourite Dean Solomon to Tullamarine. Pic: Getty Images
Essendon hopes to lure club favourite Dean Solomon to Tullamarine. Pic: Getty Images

"When Xavier presented to me his thoughts around succession planning, initially you think I'm moving aside, I'm handing over the reins of what I think is going to be a really strong group and a really strong culturally sound football team and football department to take over," Worsfold said.

"But I also knew, deep in my heart, that regardless of what happens in 2020, family is going to be the most critical decision making point for me.

"Having worked with Ben for 12 months, I really see his potential and see his talent and can see him becoming a really strong and successful senior footy coach. I'm really keen to assist him with adding to his current skill set in terms of stepping up into what is a totally different role is being senior coach as opposed to being assistant coach.

"I'm really proud of what the club's been able to achieve over the last few years and I'm really excited for what the club's going to achieve in the future."

Rutten said he and Worsfold had spoken last week about how their different roles would work next year and he would be empowered to take on more responsibility around how the Bombers play, prepare and plan.

"For John to allow this next year to happen under some really strong guidance from him is a great opportunity that I know is not afforded to a lot of senior coaches before they take over the role," Rutten said.

"I think fundamentally we've got a really similar vision of what we want to achieve in the football club.

"I've committed to the players that I'm going to coach them hard and build on relationships based on trust. I'm really looking to take this footy club and this playing group forward into the future."

Campbell said the succession plan was "certainly not a holding pattern" for the club.

"This is a structure, this is a plan, that's designed to best support the football club into the short, medium and long term," Campbell said.

"I really feel confident that we're leveraging two pretty unique skill sets that complement each other. I feel like that is going to drive continued improvement in our football program."

News Corp Australia


UPDATE: Eight crews remain fighting Avondale fire

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