Freo blow as Scott lands Cats job
As Fremantle look to move on from losing a key player behind their big improvement last season, new Geelong coach Chris Scott says he is acutely aware of the fine line he will walk as the AFL club aims to return to the top without rebuilding.
The Dockers assistant and two-time Brisbane premiership player was the surprise choice to replace Mark Thompson, who cited burnout when he resigned suddenly at the start of the month.
On the one hand, Scott and Geelong know he must introduce new ideas and overhaul their game style if they are to quickly overtake premiers Collingwood, who smashed the Cats last month in their preliminary final.
But Scott, who has been appointed to a three year term, also stressed he has plenty to learn as he comes into one of the league’s best-run clubs as a complete outsider.
It is all at once a dream debut AFL senior coaching job and a massive challenge.
“I need to be really clear – I have no plans to come in and do everything my way, I have the utmost respect for this football club,” Scott said on Monday.
“I’m humble to be the new senior coach, but I’m aware that I have a lot to learn.
“The manner in which we work together is going to be the determining factor in our success in the next couple of years.”
Scott beat current Geelong assistant Brenton Sanderson and former Cat Ken Hinkley for the job.
There was also a fourth man on the Cats’ short list, but they will not say who.
Even before Scott was appointed over the weekend, the Cats hierarchy made it clear they still believe their premiership window remains open – adding to the pressure on the new coach.
After winning the 2007 and ’09 flags, their poor effort against the Magpies seemed to signal the end of an era.
Then Thompson, star player Gary Ablett and assistant coach Brendan McCartney all left.
But outgoing president Frank Costa said he had read “with mirth” predictions of the Cats’ demise, while chief executive Brian Cook said the last few weeks had not been a tumultuous time at the club.
Costa, Cook and captain Cameron Ling flanked Scott at a packed media conference.
Cook said the club had no doubt they had made the right choice.
“We fell in love with Chris over the two-week period, it was a short honeymoon, but now we have the marriage,” Cook said.
Scott and his identical twin Brad were two of the league’s most fearsome players during Brisbane’s premiership dynasty from 2001-03.
Ling admitted Chris “scared the hell out of me” as an opponent, but was excited about his appointment.
“The whole playing list needs to be really challenged and open to a few new ideas,” Ling said.
“What do they say? Change is as good as a holiday.
“While we do a lot of things right, Collingwood showed that we still have some improvements to make if we’re going to be back as the No.1 team next year.”
Sitting at the back of the media conference were Blake Caracella and Nigel Lappin, two team-mates of Scott’s at Brisbane who are now Geelong assistants.
Scott said there were “a few decisions” to be made about his support staff, but it was too early to go into detail.
Brad, who has enjoyed a great debut season as North Melbourne coach, has offered his brother as little advice as possible.
It will be the first time in AFL history two twins coach against each other.
“He was pretty excited … (but) there’s no doubt you guys (media) will find the fact that twins are coaching more interesting than we do,” Chris said.
The news is a blow for the Dockers although Scott has made no secret of his ambition to become a senior coach and was on the shortlist for the Port Adelaide job last month.
In a statement released today, Fremantle chief executive officer Steve Rosich said while the club was disappointed to lose defensive coach Scott, it would never stand in the 34-year-old’s way.
“Chris has been a highly-valued member of our coaching staff since joining Fremantle as an assistant coach ahead of the 2008 season,” Rosich said.
“That a successful club such as Geelong has sought to recruit one of our coaching staff speaks volumes for the culture and environment that we are building at Fremantle.
“We wish Chris all the very best in his future endeavours.”
DoB: May 3, 1976
– Selected by Brisbane with pick No.12 in 1993 national draft
– 215 games with Brisbane, 1994-2007
– 1994 Rising Star winner
– 2001-02 premierships
– 1998 Brisbane best and fairest
– Assistant coach at Fremantle since 2008