DUAL AFL premiership ruckman Shaun Rehn will take the reins of the Summerland AFL representative side next month in his first senior level coaching appointment since his role as ruck coach at the Brisbane Lions in 2006.
Rehn, who lives on the Northern Rivers and coaches his son’s Byron Magpies under-14s, will lead the rainbow-coloured SAFL team against the Toowoomba-based Darling Downs football league side at Fripp Oval, Ballina, on Saturday, May 22.
Rehn has much experience to draw from.
He was an inaugural member of the Adelaide Crows when they joined the Australian Football League in 1991 and was an integral player in the Crows’ premiership sides of 1997 and 1998.
His deft tap-work and smashing hit-outs in the ruck at key stages in both grand finals propelled the Crows forward, and their back-to-back flags was the first such in the AFL’s modern era.
The influential ruckman’s career, however, was interrupted by three knee reconstructions yet he returned each time and went on to play 134 games for the Crows before moving across to Hawthorn where he played a further 33 games in 2001 and 2002 after which he retired from the AFL.
Rehn’s first stint as coach was at SANFL club West Adelaide when, in 2003, he took the Bloods from fifth (in 2002) to a grand final in his first season, where they eventually lost to the all-conquering Central District side by 34 points.
In 2006, Rehn was appointed as ruck coach at the Brisbane Lions.
He said was looking forward to working with the SAFL side as the match draws near.
“When you get to rep footy of any code, it’s a bit more special. I can’t see this league (SAFL) approaching it any differently and I’m looking forward to see what we end up with at training,” Rehn said.
“I watched the Byron Magpies play Tweed Coast (last Saturday) and it was a good, entertaining match.
“Hopefully, all the best players in the league are present for (rep) training and we can put out the best team available.”
Rehn also sees the introduction of the Gold Coast and Western Sydney teams into the AFL as a big plus for local junior footballers.
“The (16 AFL) clubs will push harder and harder to identify talent because both those clubs will have the (2010 and 2011) AFL drafts tied up,” he said.
“AFL recruiting scouts have already been here on the lookout for talent, and so there’s a great incentive for kids here that are 14, 15 and 16 who have some talent and a dream to play at AFL level.
“It’s just a great opportunity to come out of school and be guaranteed a significant wage to do something you love.”