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Hardwick supports under-fire Bombers coach

Melbourne coach Simon Goodwin has slammed Essendon for disrepecting Ben Rutten as AFL coaches reach out to support the besieged Bombers mentor.

Goodwin and Richmond coach Damien Hardwick are among AFL coaches to contact Rutten as he clings to his job in charge of Essendon.

Rutten’s position is in jeopardy after the club this week attempted a last-ditch bid to lure four-time Hawthorn premiership mastermind Alastair Clarkson.

The 39-year-old Rutten has continued coming to Essendon’s Tullamarine headquarters to take training despite the strong chance he will be removed.

Goodwin, a playing teammate of Rutten’s at Adelaide, is also a former assistant coach at Essendon.

“I am a mate of Ben, I have reached out to Ben, it’s a really tough situation,” Goodwin told reporters on Thursday.

“To be honest, I think we all sit here as coaches and we look at our situation and the one thing you want in our industry is respect.

“And I don’t think Ben has been afforded that. I think it has been pretty poor how he has been treated.

“Hopefully he comes out the other side but he has showed enormous dignity in the way he has gone about his business.

“He has given four years of incredible service to that footy club and our industry.

“He is a great person, a great coach. And I just hope he comes out the other side and make sure that he is treated the right way.”

Rutten worked at Richmond under Hardwick for four years and was a member of the coaching panel during the Tigers’ drought-breaking 2017 premiership.

“Ben Rutten’s a terrific coach, we’ve had him in these four walls, we know what he’s capable of and how well he can do the job,” Hardwick told reporters on Thursday.

“What I do empathise with is the human element. It’s a tough situation but that’s the caper we’re in.

“It’s unfortunate in nature but what we care about is the person and we hope Ben himself is doing OK.”

Hardwick was uncomfortable with clubs speaking to prospective coaches with an incumbent still there, and with teams targeting contracted players in-season.

He raised the example of Melbourne recently speaking with contracted Collingwood ruckman Brodie Grundy.

“Our players are probably speaking to other clubs and we’re speaking to other players, it’s just part and parcel of the industry,” Hardwick said.

“It doesn’t make it particularly right but we do know it is part of the equation.

“It probably doesn’t sit right with me that we’re able to speak to other players and people are able to speak to our players.

“Unfortunately, until the AFL probably mandates that it’s a no-no then it will continue to happen.”

Finals-bound Richmond face the under-fire Bombers at the MCG on Saturday in the last round of the season.

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