Guy McKenna named Gold Coast AFL coach - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Guy McKenna named Gold Coast AFL coach

13/08/2008 07:20:12 PM Comments (0)

Inaugural Gold Coast coach Guy McKenna believes the choice of recruiting manager will be just as important at the new AFL club.

McKenna will be responsible for leading the competition's next team in its two fledging years and will have to prove his worth immediately to earn the chance to coach the club in its debut AFL season.

The GC17 franchise, which aims to be granted the AFL's 17th team licence in October and then enter the league in 2011, signed the Collingwood assistant coach to a two-year deal.

The task before McKenna, 39, is enormous.

He will be the front man for the AFL in the tourist mecca and behind the scenes must oversee the building of a playing list of talented youngsters prepared to sit out the chance to play AFL next year, and instead play in the Victorian under-18 competition in 2009 and in the VFL in 2010.

In accepting a two-year contract, McKenna admitted there was a risk that he could establish a team but then be denied the chance to coach the side in its debut AFL season.

GC17 franchise chairman John Witheriff said he would be disappointed if it was not McKenna coaching the side in round one, 2011.

McKenna said the franchise now had to make the right posting in hiring the man whose primary responsibility was finding the right players.

"The recruiter is a massive one," he said.

"I'm going to make mistakes at training and in games, but the recruiter cannot afford to make mistakes.

"We don't know what sort of (draft) concessions the AFL will give us yet, but we've got to make sure that every pick is absolutely gold, pardon the pun, because we only get one shot at this and we have to make sure we get the right quality kids to the club."

Witheriff said McKenna - chosen from a short list of four - would not only mould the players into a team during the two years in lower-tier competitions, but have an enormous say in defining the club's fabric.

"He brings strong leadership attributes and will play one of the most important roles we have in building the culture of this new club," Witheriff said.

Another chance of becoming a footballing pioneer was what excited McKenna most - he played the first of his 267 games at West Coast in that club's second season in 1988.

He said he would use that same message when encouraging young players to sign for the franchise, which currently lacks a nickname, home and colours, but has signed four Gold Coast teenagers.

"I see this as similar to West Coast in that we're starting from scratch and I'll be saying to young guys that they'll have the chance to be one of the pioneers," he said.

McKenna has long been considered the next AFL coach-in-waiting, having served as an assistant at the Eagles and then under Mick Malthouse at Collingwood for five seasons.

He was previously interviewed for positions at Carlton, Melbourne, Essendon and St Kilda.

The Gold Coast position was considered a risk to some, as former Brisbane Lions great Michael Voss last month rejected an offer of a three-year deal because of a lack of security.

Soon after, Malthouse warned applicants not to sign for anything less than three years, because of the risk of being replaced after doing all the hard work.

But McKenna said it would be him to blame if he could not impress the board sufficiently to earn a second contract.

"It's a focus on developing and ... if I can get a leg up and impress the board that we're heading in the right direction, then I'm confident I can get into that third year," he said.

He will serve his term at Collingwood - "my grand plan is to win the flag at Collingwood and then move up" - before relocating in October to finalise the inaugural playing list.

Malthouse and Collingwood football chief Geoff Walsh congratulated McKenna on his appointment and said he would be a big loss to Collingwood.

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