Ben Rutten insists he ‘absolutely’ wants to coach Essendon in 2023, despite 66-point loss to Tigers
Ben Rutten may look like a dead man after Essendon’s dubious handling of their Alastair Clarkson chase, but the Bombers coach insists he still sees himself heading from the side in 2023.
Rutten’s position seems to be hanging by a thread after the AFL club slapped supercoach Clarkson on the fingers this week in an attempt to get hold of the four-time premiership winner from North Melbourne.
However, the 54-year-old chose the Roos in a humiliating episode for the Bombers, with club chief David Barham revealing that Rutten’s future will be decided on Sunday, after Saturday’s game against Richmond.
Essendon coach Ben Rutten insists he ‘absolutely’ wants to coach the club in 2023
And despite the ax looming over his head, Rutten is adamant that he will stay with the club next year.
“Absolutely,” he said when asked if he sees himself coaching the club ahead of the match at the MCG in 2023.
“I really believe in the squad of players we have at the football club and in what we are building.
‘I would love to experience it and that is certainly my intention at this stage.’
Rutten is under contract for next season and is determined to stay with the club
The Bombers were hoping to lure Alastair Clarkson to the club, but instead the four-time premiership winning coach was set to sign with North Melbourne on Friday.
Rutten’s likely last AFL game as Bombers coach ended in defeat as Richmond defeated Essendon by 66 points on Saturday but will be sweating over a groin injury from superstar striker Tom Lynch ahead of the final.
Lynch was replaced by Jason Castagna in the last quarter, after five goals in the second half, to sour the Tigers’ otherwise impressive 21.15 (141) to 11.9 (75) win in the MCG.
It had otherwise been a relatively routine win for Richmond, who took seventh and added an exclamation mark to Essendon’s self-inflicted week of turmoil.
Rutten has been signed for next season but it looks like he will be sacked after a board meeting on Sunday, days after the club’s failed attempt to lure now-coach Clarkson from North Melbourne.
But he probably coached his last game with the Bombers on Saturday night
On Saturday night, Richmond kept Essendon at bay for the first two quarters, then kicked off to leave the Bombers languishing in 15th.
The typically reliable Dion Prestia (31 disposals, five clearances) was Richmond’s best in an even team performance, while Lynch exploded after the headshot.
For Essendon, Zach Merrett (37 disposals, eight clearances) found the ball at will and was supported by Dylan Shiel (28 disposals, seven clearances), while key striker Peter Wright scored three goals.
The Bombers also said goodbye to retiring stalwart Michael Hurley, who played his first AFL game since a horror hip infection.
Essendon waved goodbye to retiring stalwart Michael Hurley on Saturday
Hurley also had an emotional end to the evening, getting close to goal late and kicking for real before waving to the Bombers supporters to celebrate.
The Tigers started five of the first seven majors, with livewire Noah Cumberland faltering their first two.
Defender Ben Miller floated forward and scored a goal behind the siren to give the Tigers a 19-point lead at the first substitution.
Tom Lynch (center) kicked a team-high five goals for the Tigers in their 66-point win
But the Richmond star had to be substituted in the last fifteen minutes due to a groin injury
Essendon scored the first two goals of the second term, but didn’t really get a foothold in the game.
Bomber dynamo Jake Stringer had to be substituted out of the game after accidentally hitting a knee on the back of the head of Marlion Pickett, who had tried to hinder the attacker.
Richmond maintained their 19-point lead at the main break and scored the first six goals of the second half to effectively capture the four points midway through the third term.
Noah Cumberland (left) scored three goals for the Tigers in the MCG on Saturday night
Lynch came alive and mustered Jayden Laverde to start his first three goals of the game.
Wright and Dyson Heppell aimed to improve Richmond’s goal and narrow the three-quarter deficit to 44 points.
But the Tigers held out after the final substitution to push their margins past 10 goals, with only Lynch’s injury halting their momentum.