Hird takes the romance out of clash against Sheedy
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Essendon coach James Hird says emotion won't be a factor when he takes on former mentor Kevin Sheedy in Saturday's clash with Greater Western Sydney.
Hird stressed on Friday that GWS's first match at their revamped Showground Stadium will be all about the 44 players on the park - not the "romantic story" between Sheedy and Hird - who formed a formidable partnership as coach and captain at the Bombers.
I can't see why our guys would be complacent .... This club hasn't won a final, hasn't been competitive in the top end of the season for probably 12 or 11 years.
"I think coach versus coach is definitely overrated - it's about the players," Hird said.
"I haven't spent any time thinking about Sheeds, it's been more about (Stephen) Coniglio, (Dom) Tyson - who our players will be up against.
"I suppose it's a little bit of a romantic story if you like - myself against Sheeds - but in the end our influence on the game will be very small."
The weekend will feature Hird clashing wits with Sheedy, the man who oversaw his entire AFL career starting with the 1990 draft.
Of more concern to the second-year coach is the chance for his side to entrench themselves in the top four.
Essendon's eighth victory is considered a fait accompli against the youthful Giants, but Hird is confident his charges - whose only loss came in a tense Anzac Day fixture - won't see it that way.
"I can't see why our guys would be complacent. We're trying to do something, we're trying to go somewhere. We're not anywhere near there yet, and we haven't been there for a long time," he said.
"This club hasn't won a final, hasn't been competitive in the top end of the season for probably 12 or 11 years.
"You just can't afford to be complacent. You can build a year and we're trying to build that. Our guys understand that."
While downplaying the nature of his maiden match against Sheedy, Hird admitted the four-time premiership coach had left a distinct impression on the Bombers' coaching team.
"His philosophies, my philosophies, Mark Thompson's philosophies and Sean Wellman's philosophies - (they) have some similarities to them and he's had a lot of influence on us.
"He knows a lot of our players. He knows I'd imagine how our club thinks - it's a matter of stopping that.
"I think you can get romantic about football when you finish, and not while you're in the midst of it - it's a brutal game and you've got to concentrate on the task at hand."
Hird said veteran defender Dustin Fletcher (groin) should return next week against Melbourne, while young gun Dyson Heppell will be given 1-2 weeks to overcome his knee knock.