GREAT WESTERN - Great Western Football Club has confirmed Nick Thomas will lead the Lions next season.
Thomas will be a playing coach following his move from Stawell Warriors in the Wimmera Football League to the Lions, who are heading into their second season in the Mininera and District Football League.
Great Western president Rodney Matheson and the club was delighted by Thomas' decision to take on the senior coaching role.
"We're rapt he decided to come with us. Nick's a straight line player and when the ball's there, look out anyone else in his road," Mr Matheson said.
The news is a welcome boost for the Lions who had a tough inaugural MDFL season, winning just the one game and suffering multiple one hundred point-plus losses.
Great Western were already looking ahead to 2013, approaching Thomas about taking on the coaching role before their last home and away game for the season.
The Lions then approached the former Stawell player again eight weeks ago, but he was unwilling to confirm his intentions until late last month.
Mr Matheson has faith that Thomas is the right player for the job.
"I don't think he'll struggle (as coach) on the field," Mr Matheson said.
"The way he talks to the guys (off field) will come only with practise. He'll probably be wary at the start but it'll come to him. What he does lack in talking, he'll make up on the field."
Thomas is looking forward to the challenge, saying coaching is something he has wanted to do.
"I just thought it was time, where I wasn't going to get any more out of being an assistant, (I wanted) to step up and have a go at coaching. I want to get the most out of myself while I still can. I'll never know (how I go) until I try it," Thomas said.
"I've had a couple of years as an assistant coach (at Stawell) and am ready to take that next step and have a crack at it."
Thomas said being senior coach of a relatively new, young team will have its moments, the same as any other side.
"It depends on how we well we recruit and if we keep the majority of players at Great Western, there's no reason why we can't have a successful year."
Thomas is not fazed by taking on an outright playing coach role, saying the key to being a playing coach is having a person on the bench who knows how you play.
"You've got to have someone who is on the same page as you, and you've got to trust that person making all the moves for you. You've got to have some sort of relationship - that's the main thing for me," he said.
Thomas' priority now is to find someone who can step into that assistant coaching role.
"There are a few within and around the club who have been there and I know them fairly well. They know how I play and I know how they play. There are two to three people to choose from to help out. We definitely want to appoint an assistant coach," Thomas said.
A joint coach role was something not considered, as Thomas wants to get the most out of coaching and to have the ability to have the final say.
Thomas had an outstanding year with Stawell, saying he learnt a lot throughout the season under coach Andrew Bach.
He is hoping to transfer what he learnt under Bach and the confidence he gained in 2012 across to the Lions.
"I learnt a bit, with different drills, different positions, strategies, tactics...it was a good learning curve being under 'Bachy'," Thomas said.
"I focused more on my game and played some good footy once I got the confidence. Football is massive confidence thing that comes naturally."
Next year, Thomas is hoping to play more in the midfield after playing much of 2012 in defence and across the half back line.
"I'm more comfortable being an onballer to the half back line, I like to be more around the ball," he said.
As for the off-field side of things, such as talking to the players, Thomas is aware of the challenges that lie ahead.
"Taking on a new role, you come into dangerous water. But you feel uncomfortable if you let it be uncomfortable, really. I'll soon work past it. It'll be trial and error," he said.
"It's not a great concern for me. If I do it enough, I'll get used to it."