KOLORA Noorat has promoted its new senior coach from within after Danny Finn’s decision to step down at the end of this season.
Playing assistant coach Ben Walsh will take the reins in 2019 after the club announced the decision to players and supporters last Thursday.
President Paul O’Sullivan said the process had been conducted quickly adding the Power did not have to look far to find their new leader.
“Six weeks ago, we spoke to Danny and he said this would probably be his last year, which was terrific of Danny to do,” he said.
“It gave us that jump to say we can now go forward looking for coaches and we basically knew what we had here at our back door with ‘Walshy’.
“We spoke to ‘Walshy’ and he basically took his time, spoke to his family and came back and said yep, I’m right to go.
“It was just a natural progression as far as we were concerned.”
O’Sullivan said Walsh was the right fit for not only the playing group but the club as a whole.
“He’s a great communicator and he’s well-respected by the players and all the people around the club,” he said.
“As far as the community is concerned, he fits in and he’s a really nice fit to come in (as coach), he’s a good people person and explains himself really well.”
O’Sullivan said Finn had done a great job at the helm, particularly following the Power’s most successful period.
He said Finn had bought into the “community spirit” around the club, which had helped him thrive in the role.
“He’s been great,” O’Sullivan said.
“He came in after Ben Kenna being here, (who is) a three-time premiership coach, (so it was a) bit of a tough gig to come (in after Ben).
“First year we finished fifth, the next year third and we won the premiership last year and hopefully he can continue on from what we’re doing now.
“So he’s been great, he’s brought a lot of new people and faces to the place and really bought into the community spirit we have here.”
Finn said his decision to stand down at the end of the Power’s finals tilt was related to a “combination of things”, but he knew he wanted to leave with Kolora Noorat in a strong position.
“It’s a four year sort of block, it’s a long time and I think knowing the club was in a really good position, I felt it was the right thing to do in regard to I’ve given a fair bit (to the role),” he said.
“Probably in the back of my mind, I wanted to make sure things were in place before I left or were well and truly on track, and the club have acted pretty swiftly, which is pleasing.”
Finn and Walsh are first cousins, with the outgoing mentor pleased for his right-hand man’s appointment.
“He’s well and truly ready to coach,” Finn said
“It’s pretty exciting for him and his family and obviously I’m part of his family, so we’re all really pumped for him and… happy to support him anyway we can.”
Finn said he felt “very privileged and honoured” to lead the Power and said the “connection to the community” is just one of many things he will look back on fondly when his time ends.
“I reckon it’s massive coming from a Warrnambool club – South Warrnambool – you sort of just take things for granted a little bit in terms of how things are done,” he said.
“To come out here and to see the people work and the way they put things in and the way the players drive the values around the place.
“I’ve learnt a lot from the playing group, the committee, the supporters, members finding out what it’s like to be part of that small community.”
Walsh has served as a coaching apprentice under Finn the last two seasons and under Adam Dowie (Koroit) the two years prior but is stepping into a senior head coaching role for the first time.
The new leader has also been coach of the Western Bulldogs Next Generation Academy but wants to continue pushing Kolora Noorat in the direction Finn started in his new role.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Walsh said.
“It’s a great club with great off-field support from the committee and the community.
“I’m really looking forward to continuing on the work Danny has put in over the last four years.”
The junior development at the club over the past few years has “excited” Walsh and is one part of his new role he wants to continue.
“We’ve blooded a lot of those kids that played in our under 17 premiership side last year (this season),” Walsh said.
“So continuing to work with them and giving them opportunity and try and pass on some knowledge and help them with their development is the main thing that really excites me.”
Walsh said supporters can expect to see little change to the way the Power plays in 2019, but added he will definitely put his “stamp” on the playing group.
“The way I think about the game is pretty similar to Danny but I definitely want to make sure that moving forward that I will put my stamp on it,” he said.
“In terms of the way we play, it probably won’t change a lot, but yeah I’ll try and do some things to try and freshen things up and be a different voice from Danny.”
Walsh said once the season is finished he will look to finalise his coaching structure, but for now, it was all systems go in the Power’s quest to achieve more success.
“Now that we’ve got all this sorted, I’ll be fully focused on supporting Danny and making sure we’ve got all our energy and attention on the next four to six weeks hopefully,” Walsh said.