THE opportunity to hone his craft under AFL coaching icon Kevin Sheedy was too good for South Warrnambool export Leon Cameron to refuse.
Greater Western Sydney yesterday confirmed the worst-kept secret in football when it announced Cameron as its new assistant coach.
Cameron, 40, has signed on for four seasons and will take over from incumbent Sheedy as senior coach after the 2013 season.
The Hawthorn assistant has been the subject of immense speculation this week after Port Adelaide and Greater Western Sydney tabled him offers to coach.
He loomed a shoo-in for the Power job before committing to the Giants as the post-season AFL coaching merry-go-round continued.
The appointment has opened the door for another south-west coaching export, Camperdown’s Ken Hinkley, to take over at Port Adelaide.
Hinkley met with Power officials at Alberton Oval yesterday and speculation was rife he accepted the coaching job last night.
Cameron played 256 matches and kicked 108 goals for Western Bulldogs and Richmond during a 14-season career at the elite level. He retired in 2003 but returned to the Bulldogs in 2004 as an assistant coach.
Cameron spent seven seasons at Whitten Oval before moving on to Hawthorn in 2011.
Cameron said he would have been content helping the Alastair Clarkson-coached Hawks next season go one better than their grand final appearance.
But the opportunity to learn under Sheedy, a four-time premiership-winning coach, was irresistible.
“That was a big reason, that and the excitement of the Greater Western Sydney list, I thought it was a great opportunity and I wanted to jump at it. It’s going to be hard work.
“Like a young list, we’ll have our ups and downs.
“But working with Kevin, it’s a great way to be introduced into the rigours of being a senior coach.
“Having a year under him and him giving me advice … he knows that much about football, it’s going to be great for me.”
Cameron said Port Adelaide, notably chief executive officer Keith Thomas, had run a “fantastic process” working to fill its vacant senior coaching job.
He said the position wasn’t the poisoned chalice the football world had made it out to be and endorsed Hinkley, among a host of other assistants, for the role.
“In the coaches’ association there is an unwritten rule that says no one is allowed to contact each other in grand final week if potential coaches are involved,” he said.
“They were very respectful. In the end a decision had to be made and working with Kevin is going to be a great opportunity. They (Port) will find a very, very good coach.”
Cameron will move to Sydney with his wife Carolyn and children Amelia, 8, Harry, 6, and Jack, 1.
He said “professionalism” would be the biggest lesson he would take away from his years at Hawthorn and he would also draw on his years at the Bulldogs.
“How they run that program and how Alastair leads a great football program and the people beside him, Mark Evans and Chris Fagan (is excellent),” he said.
“It’s professional. You want to be there.
“But I take away experience from a number of clubs I’ve been at.”