Should Shane Flanagan and James Hird Coach Again?

It would be nice to know if Flanagan learned anything from his four-year exile after the NRL found out that he violated the terms of his year-long ban in 2014 for failing to fulfill his “duty of care” to his players.


Meanwhile, as Flanagan sees a potential return to coaching, the other prominent coach in the midst of the “darkest day in Australian sport” contemplates his own story of redemption.

Former Essendon coach James Hird joined GWS Giants in January as ‘leadership advisor’ but is now on the coaching staff after head coach Leon Cameron resigned earlier this month.

Struggling Western Sydney franchise unlikely to hire Hird as senior coach, especially with four-time premiership winner Alastair Clarkson on the market, but there’s little doubt he wants to go back, as confirmed by his former Bombers mentor, Kevin Sheedyin a recent interview.

Should Hird be given a second chance? Should Flanagan get a third?

Kyle Flanagan.Credit:Getty

Some argue that neither man should ever go near a group of young athletes again, such was the impact of the drug saga that took place while they were head coaches of their respective clubs and playing groups.

But both the AFL and NRL insist they’ve done their time, ticked all the right boxes and can’t stand in their way, let alone won’t.

Perhaps the pertinent question is whether an AFL or NRL club would be interested in hiring a coach with that much baggage.

In Hird’s case, there is a belief that he was not a particularly good coach anyway. He returned to Essendon from his year-long suspension, but resigned at the end of 2015 with a 48 percent win rate.

However, Flanagan won a premiership with the Sharks in 2016, their first in 50 years. Success has many fathers, but he deserves a great deal of credit.

The Bulldogs need more than just a stubborn coach willing to make tough decisions. They need someone who can work hand in hand with Gould.

People join the dots and say that the two men are represented by the same person – experienced agent Wayne Beavis – but it was Anthony Griffin† How did that work?

Flanagan’s son, Kyle, is a problem, as is often the case when a father coaches his son. He told 2GB on Saturday that he would be strong enough to drop him if he felt it was best for the team, but not everyone at Belmore is convinced.

Last year he gave Barrett unsolicited advice on how to play his son, just as he tried to give advice to Trent Robinson at the Roosters the year before.

If he was appointed coach, could the Bulldogs be confident that Flanagan will impartially drop Kyle when the time comes? What if Gould didn’t want to renew his contract? What if he found a better halfback?

Flanagan says he could work with Gould, but he is shown before he has any issues with authority.

When he returned to the game in 2015, NRL officials suggested he address his colleagues at a pre-season coaching meeting. It was a chance to tell the other coaches what he’d learned, what he’d done wrong, how they could avoid the same grave mistake by letting mysterious high-performance types into their club with syringes full of unknown substances.

Flanagan didn’t understand the point, but eventually got up, grumbled a few words, and sat down. There was no remorse for the damage the supplement scandal had done to the game. It went down like a bad shrimp with his fellow coaches.

Then, in 2018, after the chief executive of Sharks Barry Russell self-reported possible violations of the salary cap, the NRL ordered a forensic audit of the club’s books.

In doing so, it found that Flanagan had defied the rules of his 2014 ban by negotiating contracts with players.

The smoking gun was a series of emails sent from his Sharks email address to his private address – that old trick! – but what is not widely known is how the integrity unit also discovered that Flanagan cheated on his homework.

One of the conditions for his return was to attend a compliance and ethics course. The audit found that Flanagan had asked others to do the essays for him. When challenged by NRL researchers, he thought nothing of it.

When contacted on Thursday, Flanagan strongly denied this, insisting that “all the work was mine”.

Flanagan deserves his chance again. It could even be with the Bulldogs, although you feel they would have spoken to him by now if they were interested.

But if this one-man election campaign is to continue, he must stop telling us what he’s done — and tell us how he’s changed.

(For the record, Flanagan turned down repeated interview requests from this column for more than two months because he didn’t want to be seen as someone applying for a job).

Swimming soap opera

It’s always interesting when sports whine that they never get enough media attention and when they do, they whine that it’s too negative.

That brings us to Kylea “No dramas” Chalmers which actually caused quite a bit of drama when he refused to do the team’s reveal at the Australian Swimming Championships over coverage of his alleged feud with pop sensation Cody Simpson

Chalmers denied Simpson a spot on the Australian team in the 100m butterfly at next month’s world championships when he reversed a previous decision to sit out the event he was entitled to.


There were baseless suggestions that it was retaliation for Simpson dating former Tokyo gold medalist Chalmers flame Emma McKeonand while they make for cheeky “love triangle” headlines, they’re a long way off the mark.

We are already hearing about a likely split in the Australian team at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham with Team Chalmers against Team Simpson.

Pass on the unsalted non-GMO popcorn.


“To me it’s kind of, I wouldn’t say pointless, no pun intended, but I’m the type of player who gets motivated by seeing my ranking go up.” † Naomi Osaka sees no point in playing at Wimbledon after the tournament has run out of ranking points because it has excluded Russian and Belarusian players… What about the fact that it WIMBEDON?!

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr is a real king. He understands that sport has a greater meaning than what happens on the pitch or on the pitch and uses his platform to effect change. His seething response to the Texas school shooting that killed 19 children and mobilized US lawmakers was truly remarkable.

Police were assaulted and bitten by drunk fans during the Dreamtime match at the MCG between Essendon and Richmond, with authorities blaming “pre-loading” alcohol prior to the match as a major factor. Preload? Great term. We’ve all preloaded for sporting events, but that doesn’t mean we’re biting a buyer.


It’s a big weekend for… Mohamed Salah, the Liverpool forward who has a “score to settle” against Real Madrid in the Champions League final in Paris on Sunday morning (AEST). Salah left the field with a dislocated left shoulder after a tough challenge from Sergio Ramos when the two sides met in the final in 2018.

It’s an even bigger weekend for… NSW coach Brad Fittler and Queensland counterpart Billy Slater as they finalize their teams for Origin I. The Maroons are outsiders, despite the Blues having a ton of injuries, including Tom Trbojevic and Latrell Mitchell† Fittler will call his side on Sunday before Slater announces his on Monday. Then it’s a 10-day Origin-a-thon. I can not wait.

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