Bombers take risk with AFL succession plan

Incoming coach Ben Rutten will be hoping Essendon's succession plan works better than Collingwood's.
Incoming coach Ben Rutten will be hoping Essendon's succession plan works better than Collingwood's.

Nailed by Sydney, botched by Collingwood and somewhere in between at Melbourne, coaching succession plans are a rarely-utilised and risky option for AFL clubs.

Get it right and you can set up a period of sustained success like at the Swans, where John Longmire has coached the club to a premiership and three grand finals since taking over from Paul Roos in 2011.

Get it wrong - like at Collingwood - and the fallout can reverberate well into the next decade.

Essendon will be hoping for the former after announcing on Monday that Ben Rutten will take over from John Worsfold at the end of next season.

The acrimony spawned by Mick Malthouse's enforced handover to Nathan Buckley in 2011 remains a cautionary tale.

Earlier this year, Malthouse said he had intended to stay on at Collingwood once he handed over the reins in a plan engineered by club president Eddie McGuire.

But Malthouse said Buckley did not want him in the coaches' box or having any access to the Collingwood coaches.

Buckley fired back in an incendiary interview where he spoke of Malthouse's rat cunning and skill as a master manipulator.

Melbourne's handover from Roos to Simon Goodwin looked like a resounding success when the Demons broke their decade-long finals drought in his second year in charge.

But the jury is out on Goodwin after a bewildering slump to 17th on the ladder this season.

The Bombers are confident they have the right balance of personalities to make their succession plan work, with Worsfold's desire to be closer to his family in Western Australia making it unlikely he'll end up having second thoughts.

Rutten and Worsfold are still coming to grips with how their responsibilities will be split next year but the pair are in close contact and confident of making it work.

"Our commitment to making this work and our relationship, our communication and regular contact we're going to have, I think is hopefully going to alleviate a few of those (potential issues)," Rutten said on Monday.

"It doesn't mean we're going to agree on everything but we're going to be working really closely together to make sure we're getting the best outcomes for the players and the club."

Australian Associated Press