Has sacked Bombers coach Ben Rutten lined up his next move?
The former Essendon mentor was spotted at Richmond headquarters on Friday, just five days after he was handed his marching orders at Tullamarine.
The Tigers do have an opening for an assistant coach, with current staffer Adam Kingsley heading north as the new GWS head coach.
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“Ben Rutten was at Punt Road today as he looks to move on from the Bombers,” 7Sport reporter Natalie Yoannidis said.
“7NEWS understands it was an informal chat with Damien Hardwick and other key Tigers footy staff.”
Rutten is a former Tigers assistant coach, working at the club from 2016 before he ultimately joined the Bombers under John Worsfold.
Under Hardwick, Rutten was the defensive coach when the Tigers won the 2017 flag.
Hardwick was one of the most vocal in his support for Rutten while the club left him hanging earlier this month, with its last-ditch effort to secure the services of Alastair Clarkson.
The Bombers ultimately failed in that bid as Clarkson confirmed their offer came too late before he signed with North Melbourne.
Rutten then coached Essendon’s final match – against Richmond in Round 23, before he was sacked the following day.
“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 said just last week.
“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 said the Tigers believe Rutten is a “great coach”, a “wonderful man” and a “very good servant”.
Many of the AFL’s top coaches came out in support of Rutten and the way Essendon handled his dismissal.
Rutten’s exit from the club has sparked more movement with at least four board members departing, along with CEO Xavier Campbell this week.
Despite coaching his final game for Essendon, Rutten will still be paid out his 2023 contract by the club.