A FOUR-TIME Warrnambool premiership coach is still helping the Blues – three decades on.
Former AFL coach Grant Thomas, who led the Hampden league power to four straight flags in the 1980s, let the Warrnambool hierachy know of Luke Cody’s impending arrival in the seaside town.
Cody, 24, spent the 2017 season playing at South East league club Narre Warren after a seven-year stint at Noble Park.
“My coach last year Heath Black, who used to be at Freo and St Kilda, his coach (at the Saints) used to be Grant Thomas who has links with Warrnambool,” he said.
“That was how my number got passed through to the club. I don’t personally know Grant but somehow my number ended up here and I had an interview with (chairman) Simon (Perry).
“He brought me and my partner up to the footy club for a meal and had me sold pretty quickly.”
Cody, a half-forward-midfield prospect who featured on TV show The Recruit in 2014, said he wanted to help the Blues return to the finals after a season on the outer.
“I am learning about the history of the Warrnambool footy club – they’re a pretty successful club so it was a bit daunting walking in there,” he said.
“I felt like the expectations were pretty high.
“You walk into the clubrooms and see all the premiership team (photos) so you can tell they’re a successful club.”
Cody said first-year coach Matt O’Brien had the attributes to lead Warrnambool back to the top-five and beyond.
“He was coaching us from the start of pre-season but no one really knew,” Cody said.
“It was kind of good to know he was going to be the coach because he’s got the idea of where he wants to take us and what he wants to do with the team.
“I think he’s really won over a lot of the boys and everyone understands how he works and where he wants to go.”
Warrnambool will use Cody in a variety of roles.
His main position is at half-forward but he “did a lot of running in the off-season and stuck to a program and it’s paid off a bit”, giving him a chance to run in the midfield.
“If I can get one-on-one hopefully I can win it,” Cody said of his strengths.
“Footy smarts and knowing when to lead and not to lead and creating space for others (is a strength of mine).”
Cody and key position forward Sam Cowling, who is returning after an injury-interuppted campaign, will play pivotal roles in the Blues’ front half.
“Getting front and centre of a guy like Sam Cowling who might not drop a mark because he’s so big but just getting to his feet and roving packs and kicking goals (will be important),” he said.
Cody and partner Lauren Clothier moved to the south-west in late September after she accepted a job as a radiation therapist at the cancer care centre.
“We’re enjoying it. The travel back home – it was taking an hour to get to work whereas here it takes two minutes,” the Norton Ford car salesman said.
“We’re loving it. It’s a bit of a holiday for us. We’ve never really lived next to the beach.”