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Blues were grooming Worsfold for top job
Yesterday’s friends, Sunday’s rivals ... John Worsfold, left, and Ross Lyon during their days as assistant coaches at Carlton. Picture: Darrin Braybrook/Allsport

Former Carlton boss Stephen Gough has revealed he headhunted John Worsfold as an assistant coach in 2000 believing he could quickly replace David Parkin as senior coach.

But Worsfold joined the Eagles after just two years at Carlton when he was only 33.

Gough said Worsfold was an ideal candidate to replace Parkin, after the legendary coach told the club he was near the end of his career.

Parkin had been grooming Wayne Brittain to take over and also added Ross Lyon as an assistant. He had no idea that the chief executive was in Perth signing Worsfold at the same time.

Gough said the club needed a quality coach to take over from Parkin and Worsfold was an obvious contender. He said Worsfold's captaincy highlighted leadership skills which could quickly be transferred to coaching.

"As the CEO I thought we had to find people to be considered," Gough said. "My view was, in succession, we were better to have as many options available to us.

"If it meant we had an extra assistant coach than we previously had, that gave us one extra look. It was certainly our view, or particularly mine, that he was a bloke who could be a good senior coach.

"So it was good to appoint him and get him some experience under David Parkin, so it would give us more options."

Gough left Carlton in 2000 to work as CEO at the Melbourne Cricket Club. Parkin retired at the end of that season and strongly recommended Brittain as his replacement after handing him significant responsibility throughout the year.

Worsfold stayed with Brittain but joined West Coast when the club sacked Ken Judge at the end of 2001. Fremantle also pursued Worsfold at the time.

Brittain coached Carlton for two years and was sacked in favour of dual North Melbourne flag coach Denis Pagan after leading the Blues to their first wooden spoon.

Worsfold has established himself as the most dominant figure in West Coast's history but said coaching the Eagles wasn't his primary goal when he joined the Blues.

"I certainly wasn't ever thinking … when I first started working with Carlton that it was only about trying to get back and coach West Coast," he said.

"It was about learning about myself to see if coaching at AFL level was going to be an option for me. That didn't really matter where."