Incoming Greater Western Sydney coach Leon Cameron says he doesn’t want his mentor Kevin Sheedy to leave the new franchise next season.
Sheedy has confirmed a Fairfax Media report that Essendon coterie groups have approached him about returning to his old club, and even fuelled the story by insisting that - if he went back to crisis-torn Windy Hill next year - it would be to "fix things up", rather for romance.
Fairfax Media also revealed that GWS has offered Sheedy a yet-to-be finalised off-field role next year, which might include a "football director" title and a seat on the board, although Cameron’s thoughts on the matter - at least publicly - were unclear.
However the coach-in-waiting, who will take over the senior position once Sheedy retires at the end of this season, was emphatic on Monday night when asked about the possibility of the former coach remaining at the Giants.
"What he's done for GWS and football in New South Wales has been outstanding," Cameron said.
"And as a young coach, I would love him to stay on at our footy club to work with our coaches ... and having a presence with our academy, it's so important bringing up local talent through our academy," he said.
"And on top of that, dealing with coterie groups, bringing potential sponsors in. Just his profile has been outstanding for our football club."
Cameron said he would not feel threatened by Sheedy’s presence because it was his understanding that any potential role the coaching legend filled next year would not involve the day-to-day workings of the football department.
"They are defining what role Sheeds can play off the field in helping our football club grow. And there is no better person than Kevin Sheedy," Cameron said on Fox Footy.
The Giants are preparing to celebrate Sheedy’s contribution to the club by giving him a decorated send-off this weekend when he coaches GWS at its Skoda Stadium home for the last time, against Richmond.
On Monday, Essendon great Tim Watson attempted to quell growing speculation about Sheedy returning to the Bombers in an off-field ambassadorial role, insisting the club had moved on and would have little use for the man that coached for the club in 634 games.
Watson said the club did not need a "spruiker" to market the club and raise morale among the supporter base, even though the Bombers brand has been badly damaged through the supplements scandal.
Watson’s view has been countered by senior assistant Mark Thompson, who said the club would "absolutely" welcome back their four-time premiership coach, believing the 65-year-old could help the embattled Bombers in some off-field capacity.
"Sheeds, when he coached the Bombers, was all over the marketing and the coterie groups," Thompson said on Fox Footy.
"Some people think that maybe it took a little bit away from his footy. But nowadays, Hirdy, just can't do that, so he would be a magnificent fill for all those coterie groups."