Triple premiership mastermind Damien Hardwick has started putting in place the team that will help him take his new club, Gold Coast, into the finals.
In one of the first big moves of the off-season, the former Richmond boss has prised former Tiger Shaun Grigg out of Geelong, despite Grigg having a year to go on his contract.
Grigg was one the architects of Geelong’s premiership victory last year, but the club has agreed to release their assistant.
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Grigg played under Hardwick for nine seasons at Richmond and was a key member of the Tigers 2017 premiership breakthrough.
He joins his former mentor after spending the past four seasons on Geelong’s coaching staff.
It is widely expected Hardwick will make a play for other contacts from his days at Tigerland, and he was recently spotted meeting superstar Dustin Martin on the Gold Coast.
Martin is contracted to the Tigers until the end of the 2024 season, but there appears to be no end to the speculation about a reunion with his former coach.
Meanwhile, the cleanout of assistants at North Melbourne has continued, with John Blakey and Gavin Brown the latest to depart the AFL club.
Caretaker coach Brett Ratten announced earlier this month that he had decided to leave the Kangaroos to pursue other opportunities.
Ratten led the side for 10 games this year during a period in which head coach Alastair Clarkson stepped away to focus on his mental and physical health.
Brown and Blakey will join Ratten out the door in what the Kangaroos have labelled a mutual parting of ways.
Blakey notched 224 games for North Melbourne and featured in the club’s 1996 and 1999 premierships.
His coaching career took him to Brisbane and then to Sydney, where he spent 14 seasons working under former teammate John Longmire.
Blakey returned to Arden St ahead of the 2021 season as a senior assistant, a role he has held for the past three seasons.
Brown departs after 10 seasons, having first joined North Melbourne in November 2013 as senior development coach.
He was promoted to head of development in late 2019 – a role he has held across the past five seasons.
It has also been reported that North will let of Jonathan Brown, who worked at the club as part-time forwards coach.
North Melbourne’s general manager of football Todd Viney said in a statement these decisions are “never taken lightly”.
“But the time is right for all parties to move forward in new directions,” he said.
As it stands, Leigh Adams, Brent Harvey, Emma Kearney, Tom Lynch and Jordan Russell remain on North’s coaching staff.
The Kangaroos only narrowly avoided a third consecutive wooden spoon this year after pulling off an upset victory over Gold Coast in the final round.
In other news, the Western Bulldogs announced the departure of development coach Travis Varcoe, who had been at the club for three seasons.
And West Coast have told defender Luke Foley that he won’t be offered a contract for 2024.
– With AAP