BRENT Moloney knows his playing days are well behind him but his coaching ones are only just starting to blossom.
The tough midfielder, a South Warrnambool export who played 166 games for Melbourne, Geelong and Brisbane across 12 years, retired at the end of 2014 AFL season.
Since then the Brisbane resident has taken a keen interest in passing his knowledge onto future football stars across Queensland, a role he now happily calls his career.
In 2015 he was assistant coach and junior development officer at Noosa Tigers while also starting his own coaching venture - the Brent Moloney Academy.
The next year he remained at Noosa Tigers while also becoming director and head coach of the Simon Black Academy, which he also did in 2017.
Moloney left Black's academy in 2018 to become a specialist skills coach at One on One Football, which he still works with now, while still remaining at Noosa Tigers.
In 2019 he made his first step into coaching a side with Wilston Grange, leading their colts (under 18) side to a premiership in the Queensland Australian Football League (QAFL).
The victory saw him promoted to coach of the club's senior football side for 2020 while also being its head of football development and a midfield coach with the Queensland state team.
"I love it and I probably enjoy it more than playing," the 2011 Melbourne best and fairest said of coaching.
"It's enjoyable putting a list and a game plan together and getting players to buy into it and when it works out it is quite rewarding."
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The first-year senior coach said he was learning a lot from the new experience.
"Coaching is all about relationships and building relationships with every player and having an understanding of what they need," he said. "I feel having a strong relationship with your players helps a lot and they are more willing do anything for you."
Moloney, 36, is gearing up to lead the Gorillas when the QAFL returns on July 11.
"We finished bottom of the ladder last year so I have got a big job to get them back in finals," he said of his new role.
"2015 was the last time they played finals so it has been a while. I took the job because I was looking forward to a challenge and I had been offered jobs prior to this but they weren't the right fit.
"I also didn't feel like moving and I was happy where I was. This was the right fit and timing and making sure I am happy and doing what I wanted and need to do was the main thing."
The former Geelong Falcon, who was drafted to the Cats in the 2003 pre-season draft, enjoyed his work as an academy coach and is now relishing his work with One on One Football.
"I have always been passionate about helping kids and developing young people and the opportunity to do that first came up when I finished at Brisbane," he said.
"It started at Noosa and then I went on to run my own footy academy and really took that side of the game on board.
"I like to break the game down for the younger kids and then watch them blossom from there. I always had a passion for coaching in the later parts of my career."
The coronavirus pandemic has thrown up a lot of curve balls in former Melbourne vice-captain's world.
His first season as a senior coach will see him coach only eight regular season games following an interrupted preparation.
Restrictions and border closures also meant Moloney has been unable to see his family and friends in Victoria or have them visit Queensland.
"I miss Warrnambool. It's such a beautiful place and it has all my family and friends there so I love going home for a bit as it can get hard," he said.
"I was home for Christmas and February for a funeral and then all this COVID stuff happened.
"It has been a tough three months as I normally see family every few months and see my mates and they fly up or I go home two or three times a year.
"My mum (Anna), dad (Greg) and sister (Jacinta and brother-in-law Glenn) come up on a regular basis and that has been tough but it has been for everyone."
In 2017 he came home to Warrnambool to play once more for the Roosters but his return ended prematurely when he ripped his hamstring off the bone in his third game against Camperdown.
"It didn't work out way I liked as I always dreamt of playing for South because they did so much for me as a junior and I wanted to repay them," he said.
"I was hoping for a bit of success and helping them to a premiership but it was unfortunate it didn't work out like one of those fairytale finishes.
"That's life and you have to move on but I still support South and I still message dad and ask if they won as I still have that strong connection."
Moloney didn't rule out a return to the south-west.
"Never say never about me moving back home but I am quite happy where I am," he said.
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