SUSPENDED: James Hird speaks to media yesterday.
SUSPENDED: James Hird speaks to media yesterday. Getty Images

Hird admits errors and urges Thompson to take over

RICHMOND coach Damien Hardwick has urged fans not to boo Essendon captain Jobe Watson and his teammates in Saturday night's game at the MCG.

Hardwick was one of a host of players and coaches from other teams who came out yesterday in support of Essendon and suspended coach James Hird in the wake of the AFL sanctions that put the Bombers out of this year's finals.

"We understand they're our opposition, but they also earn our respect," the Tigers coach and former Essendon player said.

"They were put in a situation they didn't want to be in, so let's just bring our best game where we can. We still want to win, we're still very driven to win, but let's play the game fair."

Speaking outside his Toorak home yesterday morning, Hird admitted that as senior coach he should have been more aware of what was happening with the club's controversial supplements program in late 2011 and in 2012.

"I should have known what was going on - I should have known more and I'm very disappointed that I didn't," he said.

"There is a level of responsibility you have as a senior coach. There are a lot of things that happened at our football club that shouldn't have happened and as senior coach I take some responsibility for what happened and not trying to stop it."

Banned for the next 12 months, Hird threw his support behind assistant Mark Thompson to be his replacement.

The dual premiership-winning coach with Geelong, who has been fined $30,000 for his part in the supplements program, has maintained he is not interested in filling in for Hird until he returns to the role.

"We'd all like to see Mark Thompson do it," Hird said.

"He's the obvious choice, but that will be a decision for the club and for Mark."

Assistant coach Simon Goodwin will take charge of the team for the Richmond match.