After contemplating retirement, Lewis rejuvenates career in defence with Dennington

FORMER Dennington coach Darcy Lewis says there was little the Dogs could do to prevent Panmure from running away with the 2013 grand final.

Darcy Lewis: making his mark in a new role with the Dogs.

Darcy Lewis: making his mark in a new role with the Dogs.

Lewis yesterday reflected publicly for the time since the lopsided Warrnambool and District league decider at Reid Oval last September.

Dennington, ravaged by injuries after four knockout finals in four weeks, provided little resistance after half-time in the 13.13 (91) to 5.11 (41) defeat.

The first grand final rematch of the season is at Dennington Recreation Reserve on Saturday, although both teams are much changed.

Lewis, replaced as coach by Ben Parkinson during the off-season, said the defeat would not be a talking point within the playing group this week.

He said there was “nothing we could’ve done about it” as the Dogs’ admirable run to the grand final from fifth spot fell agonisingly short.

“There was nothing we did wrong, we’d run our race by then. We put up a good fight in the first half,” he said.

“Everyone put in everything they possibly could (into the match) but in the end it wasn’t enough.”

Lewis said his own injury problems dictated the decision to step down as coach after four seasons at the helm.

“I wasn’t going to be able to be there and start training straight away. I was looking forward to some time off,” he said. “As a coach you’ve got to be there and set an example from the word go.”

Playing injured at the back end of 2013, instead of coaching from the sidelines, was the only regret about his last season in the top job.

Lewis was superb as Dennington marched towards the grand final. His match-winning performance in the preliminary final was one for the ages.

But he attempted to fill several key position roles — centre half-forward and ruck most notably — by himself, often to his personal detriment.

“I was pretty much useless come the grand final. I could hardly run. That’s the only thing that haunts me,” he said.

The toll on his body meant he contemplated retiring at the end of 2013. 

But a shift to defence has proved a master stroke for both player and team.

Lewis has been instrumental from the post in the first six rounds. 

The move was made possible with Luke Duncan returning from a knee reconstruction.

A revised training regime — Lewis says he has done half the normal work — has also been a factor in his early-season form.

“Now I’m in the backline, I’m starting to get a new lease on life,” he said.

“I guess I wish I was there through my coaching years, you can see that much more.”

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