MATT Pendergast says the state’s No. 1 ranking was a lure too hard to ignore after re-signing as Ovens and Murray interleague coach.
VCFL TOP 10
1. GOULBURN VALLEY
4. O & M
The Lavington champion has been given a third year as playing-coach of the O and M, which is just two wins from reclaiming the mantle as the best regional league in Victoria.
The O and M will play off for the state’s top honour next year if it wins the third versus fourth play-off against Mornington Peninsula on May 25, likely to be at Carlton’s home, Visy Park.
Geelong will challenge Goulburn Valley for top spot this year.
Pendergast, who has a 1-1 win-loss interleague coaching record after beating the Hampden league last year and losing to Mornington Peninsula-Nepean in 2011, said he couldn’t walk away with the job unfinished.
“We are in a position now where we can really achieve a few things,” Pendergast said.
“That’s a driving force for me.”
O and M boss Aaron McGlynn said the league was always keen to keep Pendergast, the competition’s first playing coach since Col Trevaskis in 1981.
“Pender’s managed to keep a core group together, which has been successful,” McGlynn said.
“We are thrilled to have him on board again and didn’t look outside at all.
“We were keen to keep Pender and the core group together.”
With 25 former AFL-listed players in the O and M, Pendergast will have an embarrassment of riches when he picks the side.
He will again be assisted by Justin McMahon and Ron Montgomery, with Russell Ednie stepping away from interleague.
Victorian representative Pendergast said he would make contact with the likes of Brad Ottens, Brendan Fevola, Jason Gram and Jason Akermanis after the start of the home-and-away season.
“I definitely will ring them and touch base. I will let it take its own course first,” he said.
“I think we’ve got enough good young talent in the league but if they made themselves available they would be considered for sure.
“There’s been a fair bit of quality come into the league.
“Fev indicated he’d probably play if his body was all right.
“We’ll probably have a meeting next month and go from there.”