Arnie versus Fev in interleague coaching showdown

IT will be Arnie versus the Fev when Hampden takes on Ovens and Murray in the AFL Victoria country championships this season.

O&M officials yesterday unveiled former Carlton spearhead and Yarrawonga premiership player Brendan Fevola as their coach for the representative match.

His counterpart for the Bottle Greens is Nick ‘Arnie’ O’Sullivan, a 304-game player for Koroit and Terang Mortlake during his heyday. 

O’Sullivan yesterday said he was intrigued about going up against against playing coach Fevola, who will likely have a role at full forward for O&M.

He is not a Carlton supporter — his allegiances lie with Essendon — but said he respected Fevola for his natural ability.

“I did hear Fev got the job, which is good for everyone,” he said. 

‘‘It’s good for country footy.

“Anyone who comes from the AFL back to country footy and helps out, it’s always beneficial.

“He was fantastic to watch at Carlton. 

‘‘Forgetting about his misdemeanors, his on-field actions have been fantastic.

“It would be great if he played for us but the fact he’s playing for them, it’ll add more interest to the game.”

The chance to play on Fevola could entice top Hampden league defenders to make themselves available for representative duty.

O’Connor highlighted Warrnambool utility Sam Cowling and Cobden backman Paul Hinkley as two potential opponents, should they play.

Terang Mortlake veteran Damian O’Connor and Port Fairy coach Sam Rudolph also came into his thinking.

“Sammy Cowling will be the first-up choice, he’s a big strong man like Fev, or Sam Rudolph being a pretty experienced backman that he is.

“He reads the game very well. 

‘‘And Damian O’Connor, blokes like him have good pace and a good reach.

“Paul Hinkley is another one, from Cobden. 

‘‘He’s been the in-form backman the last couple of years.

“I’d say two or three blokes would get a crack at him during the day.”

But O’Sullivan said the Hampden midfield also had a role to prevent Fevola being match-defining by pressuring the ball carriers further up the field.

“If it’s lace out, he’s going to be very hard to beat but if we can make the ball be at his head or at his feet, it’ll make our job a lot easier,’’ O’Sullivan said. 

Fevola, who has kicked 192 goals in two seasons with Yarrawonga and is yet to go goalless in a match, told the Border Mail he was excited about the job.

“I’m obviously really honoured to get it,’’ he said.

‘‘I want to coach Yarrawonga down the track and hopefully this is a building block towards that.

“There’s no better place to start — it’s the best job in country footy.”

Meanwhile, O’Sullivan said he would meet with Hampden league club coaches in the coming weeks as part of his country championships preparations.

The session, which aims to get coaches’ support for the one-off match, will be at the Flying Horse Bar and Bistro either this Sunday or next Sunday.

“I feel you get a better result with players putting up their hands if coaches are invovled,” he said.

‘‘They’ve all got ideas which helps us to be a better league.’’

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