The West

Suspended Essendon coach James Hird has expressed his joy at heading to Europe on Friday on the opening weekend of the AFL season.

Hird's 12-month ban over the club's use of supplements expires in August 2014.

The club great says it's up to the Bombers what type of role they ask him to perform in September, should the club qualify for the finals.

Hird's three-year assistant Mark "Bomber" Thompson, a two-time premiership coach at Geelong, has been appointed as Essendon's senior coach in Hird's absence.

"We are looking forward to going overseas," Hird told the Nine Network's The Footy Show on Thursday night.

"We're going to a few different spots, Singapore first then France then on to Russia.

"Bomber's the coach in 2014 and I'll come back to coach in 2015.

"I'm looking forward to helping the club in any way I can when I get there."

Asked about his possible return to the coach's box in August 2014, Hird said: "I'll be back at the club, yeah.

"It (the specific role) is up to the club."

Hird's four-month family trip reportedly includes attending an exclusive business school in France, while his children spend a term at French schools.

Essendon chairman Paul Little confirmed in mid-December that the Bombers would be paying Hird his annual base salary of $750,000 before the end of 2013.

The West Australian

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