PORT Fairy is the second Hampden league club in the market for a new coach, with star Sam Rudolph stepping down at season’s end.
Rudolph told players after training on Tuesday night his second season at the helm would be his last.
Rudolph is yet to decide if he will remain at the Seagulls as a player beyond this season but he plans to remain living in Port Fairy.
The match-winning key position player said growing family commitments and ongoing injuries were behind his decision to step down.
“With two young children it has become a tough struggle trying to find enough time for both coaching and family,” Rudolph said.
“I have enjoyed my time coaching but obviously family always comes first so I need to make sure I have the right balance.
“I will see how the body stands up before I decide whether to stay on as a player, I will have a chat to the doctor and go from there.
“I have some ongoing issues with my knee and shoulder and I will have a shoulder operation at the end of the season.” The 30-year-old former SANFL player leaves a significant legacy at the club. Last year Rudolph helped the Seagulls break a 48-game losing streak on the way to two wins and a draw.
This season the Seagulls have four wins, including the scalps of top-three contenders North Warrnambool Eagles and Portland.
Rudolph said he was happy with the club’s progress.
“We have had some really good wins this season and our average losing margins have dropped significantly,” he said.
“I think the playing group has a clear direction and they know what is needed to continue to improve. You can’t win a premiership after two or three seasons but I think some really good things are in place to make the club successful in the long term.
“The club will be able to approach prospective coaches knowing there are good structures in place.”
Rudolph said he would be keen to help out the club in a player development role if he didn’t continue as a player.
Port Fairy president Mick Wolfe paid tribute to Rudolph’s work over the past two years.
“The committee is disappointed to lose Sam but we understand his decision and his desire to spend more time with his young family,” Wolfe said. “He has brought a lot of professionalism to the club and has helped create a strong culture here which can help take us forward.
“The players now need to stick together and take on board what Sam has taught them.
“As a committee we will now be identifying potential coaches and we will be putting the feelers out.”
In some good news for the club, Rudolph will return from illness for Saturday’s match against Camperdown.
The Seagulls join South Warrnambool as clubs looking for new senior coaches for 2015.
The Roosters’ Matthew Monk, who was appointed this season for a two-year term, announced last week he would not be continuing because of family, radio and business commitments. That has seemingly sparked an earlier-than-usual start to the annual coach appointment process, with Koroit re-signing Adam Dowie last week and North Warrnambool Eagles announcing Bernard Moloney for next season on Tuesday night.
Ladder-leader Warrnambool plans to follow its usual path of waiting until season’s end, while Portland coach Jake Myles and Hamilton Kangaroos’ Jarrod Holt are in the first of two-year deals.
Terang Mortlake’s Matthew Irving, Camperdown’s Dan Casey and Cobden’s Stephen Hammond are yet to make announcements. Their contracts expire at the end of the season.