Hird confident on Bombers doping probe
Kevin Sheedy and James Hird at the Australian War Memorial on Thursday. Photo: Melissa Adams
James Hird is confident Essendon isn't in the same boat as under-siege NRL club Cronulla Sharks, but the Bombers coach admits the doping probe turmoil will take a toll on his players.
The Canberra product was back in his city of birth for the historic NAB Cup third-round clash between Greater Western Sydney and the Bombers under lights at Manuka Oval on Friday night.
In front of the picturesque Australian War Memorial, Hird batted away questions on the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority's investigation into his club.
There are reports up to 14 Sharks players could face bans for alleged performance-enhancing drug use in 2011. Sports scientist Stephen Dank was employed by Cronulla that year before joining Essendon for a season, but Hird was confident none of his players would face suspension. When asked if he was concerned, he answered simply, ''No.''
But he did admit it was only natural for the saga to have an effect.
The Bombers shocked the AFL a month ago when they revealed they were unsure of the legality of supplements their players took last season and they are now the subject of three separate investigations - by ASADA, the AFL and the club itself.
''I think it would be unrealistic to say it's gone straight over their heads, there's an investigation going on that's a very serious investigation, but our players have been very resilient, very confident,'' Hird said.
''They've played some really good football at times, we didn't play great on the weekend [against Richmond], they're ready for a game against GWS.''
Hird said he was unaware of what had happened during Danks' stay at Cronulla.
He also wouldn't say whether he'd been questioned for the investigation, or whether the Bombers had similar meetings with ASADA to the one Cronulla had on Tuesday night.
He again declined to comment on whether he thought there was any concrete evidence.
''I'm not sure what happened at Cronulla, we're obviously under an AFL and ASADA investigation, we've got an investigation of our own going on,'' Hird said.
''Cronulla is something that they've got to deal with and they'll deal with it.''
GWS coach Kevin Sheedy said he was unaware of the details surrounding Cronulla and he still had ''no idea'' what would come of ASADA's investigation.
He reiterated his belief anyone found guilty of wrongdoing had no place in Australian sport.
''I don't know [about Cronulla]. I'll be honest, I came into town, read it in the paper and until the investigations [are finished] and all these items are put on the table we've got no idea what's going to happen with sport in general,'' Sheedy said.
''… We need to really closely look at all areas of not only AFL but all sports in general and get our act together.
''Put it all on the table now in sport in Australia and get the right attitude with the right people.
''And get anybody in that area of sports science that's not great [tell them], 'See you later', and start again.''