SEEING a side on the fringe of finals but with much potential still untapped prompted Aidan Cole to sign on as Nirranda coach.
Cole, 26, will attempt to lead the Blues back into Warrnambool and District league finals after securing a one-year-plus-options deal this week.
The key-position player replaces Brad Wiggins in the role, after Wiggins called time on his decorated 305-game career at the end of last season.
Cole said he had genuine faith in the direction Nirranda, which finished season 2013 in eighth spot, was headed.
He was confident he could have an impact in a blue-and-white jumper, buying into the confidence of president Anthony “Tiger” Foster.
“When Tiger and Tim Healey came around home and approached me they said ‘we’re not far away from it’,” he said.
“They lost a couple of games there they could’ve won that might’ve sneaked them into finals.
“From hearing that stuff, I got the feeling they weren’t that far away, that was a turning point for me.
“I want to make a bit of success out at Nirranda, they’ve got the cattle there.
“If I can help get them over the line and into finals, then anything can happen.”
Cole grew up playing football at Cobden before emerging in the seniors in the mid 2000s.
He spent 2009 overseas and signed with Warrnambool on his return, winning a flag under Adam Dowie in 2010.
The lure of the Bombers was too good to refuse and he rejoined his home club in 2011, where he has played since.
Cole said Dowie, a respected mentor insistent on building from the back line, sowed the seeds of his coaching ambitions.
Outgoing Cobden coach Wayne Robertson also influenced his still-developing coaching philosophy.
But Cole said he was reluctant to make his coaching debut in charge of his home club, despite Robertson having stepped down from the helm.
“It didn’t really cross my mine. I didn’t want to go straight out and look for something that big,” he said.
Cole said recruiting more key-position players was the Blues’ main task this off-season.
He said he knew a handful of the players, having been schoolmates at Mercy Regional College.
But did have any preconceived notions, adamant the players “had an opportunity to prove themselves”.
“As I said to Tiger, I’m going to be coming in to bring a bit of the Hampden league into Nirranda, as Brad Wiggins would’ve done,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to working on fitness big time run-and-carry and pretty much ball skills.
“The boys aren’t going to be having a training without a ball in their hands.”