BOOM Port Fairy recruit Daniel Nicholson will call on his AFL experience when he tackles his first coaching role.
The Lismore-Derrinallum export has landed at Port Fairy as an assistant coach, just months after his four-year career at Melbourne ended.
Nicholson, 24, said yesterday he was excited to join the Hampden league and help the Seagulls, coming off a wooden spoon season, climb the ladder.
“With the experience at Melbourne I was pretty keen to get my coaching career off and running,” he said.
“But I didn’t want to come straight in and do a senior coaching role and not know what to expect, so I am looking forward to a couple of years’ apprenticeship and I’d like to step up after that but we’ll see how we go.
“Being the assistant I am going to focus on the fitness side of things. I have served under some pretty good fitness coaches at AFL level and with my study at uni and my personal training, I think I can bring that side of things to the club.
“The surf lifesaving club have been pretty good with the gear that is in the gym.
“Not too many Hampden clubs have a gym like that so you may as well make the most of it.”
Nicholson has committed to Port Fairy for the next two seasons and will start pre-season training on November 17. He contemplated playing in either the Hampden or Ballarat leagues after the Demons delisted him in September.
“I loved the idea of it being a one-club town,” he said of his decision to join Port Fairy.
“The footy club were pretty good with organising work for my partner (Carly) as well, so she is working for Dean Picken for Defy Fitness there in the factory area and we got approved for a house in Dennington.
“Mick Hearn is a pretty well-known builder around here so I am actually starting an apprenticeship as soon as I get down here.”
Nicholson carved a 32-game AFL career as a rebounding defender but will play a midfield-forward role at Port Fairy.
The 183-centimetre recruit arrived at Gardens Oval having played at AFL level just five months ago.
Nicholson collected nine touches in his one appearance under first-year Melbourne coach Paul Roos — the Demons’ heartbreaking six-point loss to Western Bulldogs in round 15.
He spent the bulk of the 2014 season in the VFL, playing 16 games for Melbourne’s affiliate Casey Scorpions. His best game was a 39-disposal effort against Frankston.
“I always thought I was on the cusp,” Nicholson said of an AFL call-up.
“I think I was an emergency for a lot of games this year but it was more the resurrection of Neville Jetta as a small defender — he had a really good year — that really hurt my chances of playing more games, but that’s how it is.
“I loved my time at Melbourne. There’s no grudges held there.
“I wouldn’t have this opportunity without my time at Melbourne. I appreciated every second of it and gave it my best crack and that’s all you can ask for.”
Nicholson contemplated extending his VFL career but was eager to set up other aspects of his life and settle back in the south-west.
“I had to sit back and weigh up my options of whether I was going to give it another crack and invest those next couple of years in trying to get back into the AFL system or whether to move on and to get ready for the next stage of my life,” he said.
“It was the latter that I chose and while I have some sort of income coming in from football I’d like to knock over that apprenticeship and set myself up for the rest of my life.”