PORT Fairy’s hopes of a rise up the Hampden league ladder have soared with the signing of former Glenelg star Sam Rudolph as senior coach.
Rudolph’s move to Port Fairy is the latest step in what has been a decorated career across three states.
The 28-year-old key defender first rose to prominence as a premiership player for the Eastern Ranges in the TAC Cup in 2002.
He followed this success with a pre-season at the Brisbane Lions and while he did not make the Lions list he made the most of the move north playing for Mt Gravatt and winning selection in the Queensland state team.
He returned to Victoria and completed a pre-season with Hawthorn before going on to play two seasons for Box Hill in the VFL.
In 2007 Rudolph made the move to SANFL club Glenelg where he forged a reputation as one of the competition’s premier defenders.
He was selected in the SANFL team of the year on three occasions and played in the SANFL state representative team on two occasions.
He is coming off a career best season with his 2012 honour role including being vice-captain of Glenelg, runner-up in the club best and fairest and team of the year and state team selection.
Despite this outstanding formline Rudolph said he believed the time was right for a change in not only his football but his lifestyle.
“Playing SANFL is very demanding, it was four nights a week training, playing on Saturday and then recovery on Sunday so it was pretty much every day having to be at the club,” Rudolph said.
“My wife Bianca and I have an 18-month-old son, Felix, and I felt I needed a better work and life balance.
“Port Fairy got on the phone and put the seed in my mind and the club was just what we were looking for, I didn’t want to commute too far each day and we wanted a nice town to live in.
“I had driven through Port Fairy before and friends had been down for the Folk Festival, it is a funky and interesting little town so it was appealing for us.”
Rudolph takes over the coaching role from Bernie Harris who was a non-playing coach last season.
Port Fairy went through the 2012 season without a win but Rudolph acknowledged the important role Harris played in putting time into the club’s home-grown young talent.
“The aim is to win a few games but the most important thing is to continue to develop that core group of local players that Bernie started last season,” he said.
“I won’t be going out looking to get expensive recruits, I want to keep things stable and help the club take the next step.”
Rudolph said he would most likely play at centre half-back which would give him the perfect vantage point to oversee the team’s progress.
He said he would monitor how the team was travelling and would move into an onball or forward role if the need arose.
Rudolph will make the trip to Port Fairy in the coming weeks and is aiming to be settled in the town in the first week of the new year.
The signing of Rudolph for a two-year term comes on the heels of the club electin Mick Wolfe as Port Fairy president on Thursday.
Wolfe said the club was excited to have signed Rudolph and believes he was a perfect fit to take the team forward.
“From what we have heard about Sam and from the dealings we have had with him we have landed ourselves a good player and a good man,” he said.