Paul Groves addresses his players during the NAB AFLW match between the Western Bulldogs and Carlton at VU Whitten Oval in round seven, 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

WESTERN Bulldogs premiership coach Paul Groves has made a return to the NAB AFLW competition, joining Essendon as an assistant coach.

Groves guided the Dogs to a flag in 2018, but resigned after the following season to accept a job outside of football, the team winning two of seven games in 2019.

He was a surprise applicant to return to the Bulldogs earlier this year, a position ultimately won by Tam Hyett.

Groves has been head of sport at St Bernard's College since his departure from the AFLW, coaching the school's old boys side in the VAFA until 2022 (assistant at Old Melburnians this year) and leading the Big V representative women's team.

He will be working with the midfield at Essendon – taking the reins from Travis Cloke, who is working in the men's program – and re-joining former Dogs players Daria Bannister, Ellyse Gamble and Bonnie Toogood.

Paul Groves addresses his players during the NAB AFLW match between Fremantle and the Western Bulldogs at Fremantle Oval in round five, 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

"We are also excited to welcome Paul to the club. Paul is well respected throughout the industry and has excellent experience working in women's football and education," Essendon acting head of AFLW James Polkinghorne said.

"As premiership coach with the Western Bulldogs AFLW program, Paul understands what it takes to be a successful football program. His knowledge will be highly beneficial to the playing group and wider program."

Backline coach Natasha Hardy will hold her role for a second season (and third at the club), VFLW coach Cherie O'Neill has been appointed development coach and Bernard Shepheard will move from a development role to forwards coach