Essendon coach Ben Rutten has been praised for his “tremendous amount of dignity” as speculation around his future reaches fever pitch.
Rutten arrived at the club today with the spectre of Alastair Clarkson looming large after a change in presidency prompted an eleventh-hour pursuit of the four-time premiership coach.
With Rutten’s position as coach far from assured despite shows of support from some of his players, AFL 360 co-host Mark Robinson was left in awe of his desire to continue to work as per normal.
Watch every blockbuster AFL match this weekend Live & Ad-Break Free In-Play on Kayo. New to Kayo? Start your free trial now >
NEW FOX FOOTY PODCAST — Dons drama breakdown, last-round preview
Listen below or subscribe in Apple Podcasts or Spotify
“When I heard Ben Rutten had turned up at training today, I thought the level of dignity within you is so great, it‘s so high,” he said.
“I don‘t think Ben Rutten should continue as coach, I don’t think the performances have suggested that he should, but after the events of the last two days, for him to turn up to training today – clearly he’s spoken to the new president David Barham and he did say among all the dispatches ‘I’ll be coaching for the next five days’, so there’s a finality in his voice. He’s had to sit down and talk to his players before they run out on the ground and then go out and take training – that’s a tremendous amount of dignity.”
Co-host Gerard Whateley said Rutten was now in an “impossible situation” and put the onus on Essendon to give the 39-year-old some sense of closure given his seemingly inevitable departure from the club.
“I felt this morning like once you‘ve had the vote of no confidence – and that’s what happened yesterday, once you start to pursue the next coach that’s the vote of no confidence in the man who’s in the chair – Essendon’s obligation is to leave Rutten with his dignity and with his payout,” he said.
“The neatest way I felt would be this morning. To truly engage with Alastair Clarkson, I would’ve thought the office needed to be empty. That’s a bit of a curiosity as well.”
Whateley also warned against subjecting Rutten to a “torturous” epilogue to his senior coaching tenure at Essendon in the vein of former Carlton coach David Teague.
With Teague all-but-certain to be removed as Carlton coach in 2021, the Blues allowed speculation over his future to swirl before ultimately confirming the move.
“David Teague was unnecessarily tortured by Carlton at the end across numerous days, including having to conduct exit interviews while waiting to be told he was out.
“You‘d have to know what the conversation is behind the scenes and whether he’s been told that he’s finishing up. Then, if Ben has made the decision to finish off, I do think that should be articulated publicly beforehand. Walking in and out with the television doorstop, I think that breaches the level of dignity required and Nathan Buckley spoke around honour earlier today, which resonated with me.”
While Essendon is yet to announce a departure from Rutten as coach, Robinson said there was a chance such a discussion has been had privately.
“I can‘t help but think he’s been told ’you’re finishing up, this is your last game. Do you want to walk away now or do you want to coach?’ And Ben Rutten said, I’m only guessing here, ’yes, I want to coach’.”