Demons revamp coaching structure mid-season in radical move
By Peter Ryan
June 18, 2019 — 7.36pm
Melbourne have taken the bold and unusual step of revamping their coaching structure midseason following a shocking start to 2019 under senior coach Simon Goodwin.
VFL coach Jade Rawlings will step aside from the Casey Demons to take charge of Melbourne's attack in a return to line coaching while Brendan McCartney will immediately move back to a development role after being the club's defensive coach in the first half of the season.
Flashback: Jade Rawlings in 2009.
Photo: Sebastian Costanzo
Max Rooke, who has been the club's forward coach, is also moving back to a development role with three former Cats in Matthew Egan, McCartney and Rooke now responsible for development.
Rawlings informed the players at Casey Demons during training on Tuesday afternoon that Sam Radford would take over the reins as coach of the VFL team after the AFL coaches and the players were informed of the shift in recent days.
Melbourne football manager Josh Mahoney said the club was constantly looking at ways to improve and after tinkering with the program during the first 12 rounds they have settled on a structure going forward that they think will help the Demons rebound.
"The attitude of all the staff and the coaches is that we just want to get better and we want to play whatever role we can to do that. That has given us the confidence to [make the change] at this time of the year," Mahoney said.
"We could have let the year play out and made the changes at the end of the year but our attitude is don't waste a minute. If there is an opportunity, let's get it done."
The Demons will keep Troy Chaplin as backline coach, Craig Jennings (who is doing the level 4 coaching course) as strategy and education co-ordinator, Ben Mathews as stoppage coach and Justin Plapp as midfield coach for the remainder of 2019 under Goodwin, who is in his third season as senior coach after succeeding Paul Roos in 2017.
McCartney, who joined the club to work in development in 2014 soon after finishing up as Western Bulldogs coach, has a reputation as a hard task master who is revered among players at Geelong who benefited from his teaching on their way to winning three premierships in five years while Rooke has been at the Demons since 2016.
Rawlings, who coached Casey into the VFL grand final last year and was named VFL coach of the year, is seen as a rising star in coaching ranks having earned a level four accreditation in recent years. He will return to the coaches box on matchday.
The unexpected shift comes after the Demons lost to Collingwood on Queen's Birthday to slump to 16th on the ladder with just three wins in their first 12 games with club president Glen Bartlett saying last week he expected a response in the second half of the year from a team that was expected to make finals after making the 2018 preliminary final.
With David Misson's departure as elite performance manager at the end of the season to join family in Canada prompting a restructure of the conditioning department the Demons believed there was no point sitting on their hands in relation to coaching.
That review, which was completed recently, will see the Demons recruit a high performance manager to replace Misson with the potential position overseeing the medical and fitness departments.
Dr Zeeshan Arain will become head of medical services and rehab coach Phil Merriman will become head of fitness in a remodelled structure.