By JESS WEBSTER
Southport has made the first big move this off-season by signing former Gold Coast Suns NEAFL coach Stephen Daniel on a two-year contract.
Daniel recently guided the Suns to its best ever finish to a NEAFL season with a Preliminary Final berth, and is a timely boost to a proud club which has been starved of success in the competition.
The uncertainty over his future at the Suns made it a tough decision for Daniel, and the opportunity at Southport was too good to miss.
“It’s certainly going to be great to be back in charge of my own football club again,” he said.
“(At an AFL club) you’re given listed players and then lots of academy players and you have to gel them all together each week.
“That did excite me and I did enjoy it, but the excitement now for me is to go back and coach your own club again, and put your own list together.”
An experienced coach at local and state level, Daniel led the Labrador Tigers to the 2015 QAFL premiership, breaking a 21-year premiership drought to defeat reigning champions Morningside and win the QAFL flag.
He previously enjoyed a stint at Carlton where he coached the club’s VFL-affiliated Northern Bullants. Daniel has also held positions at Tatura, Seymour, as well as coaching Queensland’s state and country teams.
He replaces Nathan Bock, who led the Sharks for three seasons before resigning earlier this month.
Southport joined the QAFL from the Gold Coast Football league in 1983 and built a reputation as a Queensland football powerhouse, making the finals every season for the next 27 years and winning 13 premierships.
But the Sharks haven’t fired in the NEAFL. They missed the finals in the inaugural 2011 season, and this year slumped to the club’s worst ever finish to a season (ninth) with four wins.
Daniel said he is grateful for his opportunity at the Suns, and is looking forward to the challenge of bringing Southport back up the ladder.
“It was a very tough decision to leave Gold Coast. Mark Evans and Marcus Ashcroft have been terrific for me,” he said.
“Over the next couple of days I’ll get together with (football manager) Jarrod Field and start having a look at our list, see where it’s at and see what needs to be worked on, and jump into recruiting as soon as possible.
“I’m looking forward to it, it’s exciting.”
Field welcomed Daniel – a Queensland Development Coach of the Year in 2008, All-Australian Coach at the Australian Country Championships and QAFL Coach of the Year in 2015 – to the club.
“Steve’s experience and record of success is exactly what the club needs,” he said.
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