Gold Coast Suns chief Mark Evans has jetted into Italy in the last 24 hours, taking the extraordinary step of going to offer Damien Hardwick the Suns’ vacant coaching position face-to-face.
Hardwick – who only recently quit Richmond – and his partner have been enjoying a European holiday for the last five weeks as he ponders a return to AFL coaching.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Gold Coast to offer Hardwick coaching contract face-to-face.
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7NEWS can reveal Evans last night touched down in Milan ahead of an expected meeting with Hardwick who’s currently down the road, enjoying the coastal surrounds of Cinque Terre.
It’s power move to signal just how keen on the Suns are on their standout No.1 coaching candidate.
The Suns are hopeful the ambitious play could make Hardwick the club’s coach within days – just months after he dramatically walked away from Richmond.
Gold Coast are making it very clear Hardwick is their No.1 choice. Credit: Getty Images
The Gold Coast position became when the Suns sacked Stuart Dew after six years in charge without making a finals appearance.
The two-time AFL premiership player’s position had been under fire for much of the past two seasons after failing to lead the expansion side to its first finals campaign in the AFL.
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Hardwick left Richmond in May, declaring he had nothing left to give, and almost immediately went overseas on a holiday.
But he never stopped watching the footy and revealed in June that he had already wanted to step back into game.
“I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t see myself doing it. I love it. I miss it. I’ve been out for two weeks and I wanted to miss it,” he said on a podcast.
“I need a bit of time but I just love the game … Like everyone, I’ve known it for a long time.
“At some stage I will probably step back in, when that is, I’m not too sure.”
Hardwick is an AFL coaching great, with three flags to his name in 2017, 2019 and 2020.
Success has a habit of following Damien Hardwick. Credit: Getty Images
He is Richmond’s longest-serving coach and sits 22nd for the most AFL/VFL games coached in competition history.
A hard-nosed defender in his playing days, success has had a habit of following Hardwick, appearing in premierships for Essendon in 2000, and then for Port Adelaide in 2004.
It has been reported that Evans is expected to put a five-year deal in front of Hardwick when they catch up.
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