(PHOTO: Josie Hayden)
Story thanks to Preston Leader.
NEW Northern Knights coach Justin Wenke says he is refreshed and ready to take charge of the TAC Cup club as it strives for improvement on and off the field.
A former mentor at Oakleigh Chargers, Wenke started his tenure at the Knights last week after spending time away from coaching the past two seasons.
The 42-year-old took charge of the Chargers in 2012, the beginning of a successful era for the club which won the premiership in his first season and went on to win further flags in 2014 and 2015.
Wenke stepped aside midway through 2014 for personal reasons but said the fire was always in the belly to continue coaching and the Knights presented a prime opportunity.
“I’m really excited to get back into it and really motivated to take the region to the next level,” Wenke said.
“My circumstances changed a bit and I stepped away from my footy for a while, but I always had that burning desire to get back involved.
“The TAC Cup jobs don’t come up a lot, so you’ve just got to wait your time but the Northern one came up and I thought that was a really good fit for me.”
While they have had some success in AFL drafts in recent years, the Knights have struggled with on-field results, winning just 14 of 52 matches in three seasons.
Wenke said a fresh set of eyes could be just what the club needed to climb the ladder and added he would take a “holistic” approach to growing the Knights and football across the region.
“The advantage is coming in from an outsider’s perspective,” he said.
“I think it’s really important I bring some elite training standards and behaviours and I really want to develop a really strong culture with this under-18 group this year and get those guys to drive some really good standards.
“(The Knights) played a significant amount of bottom-ages this year so I think with a base there, we should be able to make the team really competitive and get all the players buying into what we’re trying to do. If you get that, you should have that natural lift within the club.”
The Knights begin pre-season training on November 21.