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Thommo steps away

Saturday, 20th October, 2018

Craig Thomas addresses his players earlier this season. PICTURE: Tyler Hannigan Craig Thomas addresses his players earlier this season. PICTURE: Tyler Hannigan

By Tyler Hannigan

Coaching ace Craig Thomas has stepped down from his senior role with the South Football Club following another highly successful stint with the club.

Thomas said that he’s stepped down from the role due to personal reasons but hasn’t ruled out a return in the future. 

He first took on the South coaching role in 2014 and won League premierships both in that season and the one that followed before leaving the club in 2016 to coach in Queensland.

He then returned in 2017 and led the Roos to another flag before winning his fourth League premiership this past season.

“I always wanted to coach South one day but to win four flags has been unbelievable,” Thomas admitted.

“I thought if I’d won one then I’d be happy, but to win four has been fantastic and I’ve been lucky enough to have a great team around me and a playing group that wanted the same thing that I did. They deserve everything they get because they’ve worked so hard for it.” 

Thomas said that while the premierships were great, it’s the player development that he’s been so pleased by.

“You coach to win premierships obviously,” Thomas said.

“But this year and last year, the juniors that we’ve blooded in the side like Tyler McKenzie, Sam Edgecumbe in 2017, Connor Washbrook, Jye Smith, and even guys like Alex Jonhston, it’s been great to see how they’ve come on.

“And even some of the senior guys. Luke Lines, Bryce Pollard and Nick Brown have all stepped up and that’s been really pleasing.”

Thomas said that the development of those players is down to the attitude of South’s senior players and the club as a whole.

“It’s because of the strong culture at the South footy club,” Thomas said.

“The senior players demand the best out of you, as do the coaches.”

“I’ve been lucky over the past two years to have blokes like Drew Mashford, Anthony Elliott and before that Billy Dolan and Clayton Trengove, so I’ve had some really good assistant coaches around me,” he added.

“As well as the coaches, I’ve been lucky to have the likes of Jordan Johns, Michael Westley and most recently Marc Purcell as on-field leaders who have been so good.”

2018 may have been the teams’ most dominant as the team went undefeated with an average winning margin of 77.9 points in their 15 regular season wins. They were challenged heavily in the grand final by North but did enough to win by 14 points.

In his four seasons in charge, Thomas’ Roos won 64 of a possible 69 regular season games, plus one draw, on their way to four minor premierships.

Thomas said it’s the will to win that has given South the edge over these past few years.

“The whole group has that hunger to win and you saw that this year,” he explained.

“There were plenty of times this year that we struggled for numbers but we still found a way to win. It’s knowing how to win, backing yourself, backing your systems with what you trained to do.”

While it’s true that South have been blessed with a talented group of players, until Thomas took over as coach it was generally thought that they were underachieving having lost the 2010, 2011, 2012 grand finals under Rob Hickey and 2013 under Peter Johns.

That changed with South winning back-to-back flags in 2014 and 2015 under Thomas’ guidance and again in 2017 and 2018 when Thomas returned to the club following a loss in the 2016 grand final with Billy Dolan as coach.

“People see the finished product on a Saturday but they work bloody hard through the week at training to get it right and it’s a credit to the players and other coaches as well as Gary Harkness, Ronny Butcher, Bob (Nancarrow) and all the water runners that help out through the season,” Thomas said.

“I have to thank blokes like Wes Burns that continued to put his hand up to play when we were short and Anthony Farquar who has been fantastic to have as a reserves coach. To have someone like him to work with has made my job so much easier as has Scott Sanford as president and Andrew Rolton before him.”

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