The upcoming National Draft will see all 18 AFL clubs attempt to outdo each other in the search for the perfect player. However, in addition to drafting players, it would be interesting to see how things would work out if AFL clubs could draft coaches.
Under this scenario, each senior coach would only be permitted to remain active at their clubs for one year at a time. At the end of the season, the team that suffered the indignity of finishing on the bottom of the ladder at least has the consolation of not only receiving the first pick in the draft for players, but could also select any coach of their choosing.
In this situation, Greater Western Sydney would of course get the first choice, but there is a big chance it would opt for a coach other than Kevin Sheedy. With the opportunity to acquire the services of another coach like Sydney Swans premiership coach John Longmire or even former Geelong coach Mark Thompson, plenty of avenues would have to be explored.
Based upon the reverse order of the 2012 AFL ladder, here is an assessment of the five most sought-after coaches, and to which club they would be drafted, in a hypothetical National Coaches Draft for next season.
1. GWS – John Longmire
Naturally, the 2012 premiership coach would rate highly, for his two years in charge of the Swans have once again seen them defy public opinion and pinch a flag that many observers assumed would be Hawthorn’s for the keeping. His experience as an understudy to Paul Roos gave Longmire a wonderful grounding in what is required to be a successful coach at AFL level, and has now made him the most sought-after coach in the game. The Swans’ cross-town rivals would relish the opportunity to poach Longmire and become a thorn in the side of any team that faces them in 2013.
2. Gold Coast – John Worsfold
The coach of the Eagles for the past decade, Worsfold has certainly experienced both the dizzying highs and shattering lows of AFL coaching. His 2006 premiership win was of course a career highlight, but the wooden spoon of 2010 shows just how difficult remaining competitive is on a consistent basis. To his credit, Worsfold has set about rebuilding the Eagles, and their leap from cellar dwellers in 2010 to reaching a Preliminary Final the very next year was proof of his tremendous coaching ability. The Suns would welcome the services of Worsfold in 2013, and chances are that the players would be singing the club’s theme song a lot more than three times for the season.
3. Melbourne – Mick Malthouse
Despite not actively coaching at AFL level in 2011, the hype around the return of Mick Malthouse to senior coaching for 2013 proves his talents are still highly sought-after by AFL clubs. His wonderful record of leading teams back from the wilderness to become finalists would be an active tonic for the Demons as they fight to rediscover the mental toughness that it takes to become a consistently strong team. Malthouse would empower his players by giving them a greater sense of responsibility with the goal of the Demons becoming a highly-competitive unit sooner rather than later.
4. Western Bulldogs – Alastair Clarkson
10 points was all that separated Clarkson from becoming a dual premiership coach last season, and given the impressive efforts by the Hawks in the last two years, it is clear that Alastair Clarkson is one of the most in-form coaches at AFL level. He has managed to keep the Hawks in or near the finals for several years now, and with his relative youth, he would be a great prospect for the Bulldogs to set their club on the right track immediately. You guarantee that the toughness of any group he is in charge of would increase exponentially.
5. Port Adelaide – Ross Lyon
As much as the style of play that his teams employ is maligned, one thing that is certain is that Ross Lyon gets results. His effort in lifting the Fremantle Dockers from the lower regions of the ladder and taking them to within a few points of a Preliminary Final berth in 2012 was monumental. Given Lyon’s impressive record at St Kilda, his dedication to the job and his ability to make mediocre players seem indispensable, it would be a smart investment for the Power to adopt Ross Lyon as coach for season 2013.