WANGARATTA president Paul Challman is confident newly appointed coach Mark Knobel can lead the Magpies back into the Ovens and Murray finals.
Challman said yesterday the long-time Murray Bushrangers assistant coach would bring a wealth of coaching experience to the Norm Minns Oval and believes the club is well positioned to return as a force next season.
It will be Knobel’s second foray into senior O and M coaching ranks after he spent two months in charge at Myrtleford in 2009 before stepping down due to health reasons.
“Mark will be a very good fit for our club,” Challman said.
“We have a young list with some good kids coming through and I think it will work out well.
“He’s a well-respected young man from a well- respected family.
“So as far as that goes he’s on the right side of the railway tracks.”
Knobel, who takes over from favourite son Judd Porter, also spoke to Corowa-Rutherglen and Myrtleford before officially agreeing to terms with the Magpies over the weekend.
Challman said it was becoming increasingly difficult for playing coaches in the O and M.
“You go back to Jason Lappin and he was non-playing and it’s a big call for a playing coach to have control over what’s going on these days,” he said.
“It’s a very intense game now.
“Mark has a lot of experience behind him and we’re very happy.”
The Wodonga school teacher got the nod ahead of former Carlton premiership defender Peter Dean who is believed to be in the running for several positions in the AFL.
Dean, who is at Greater Western Sydney, worked with Knobel when he was coach of the Murray Bushrangers in 2006 and 2007.
Wangaratta slipped to seventh on the ladder this season but the club remains optimistic about rapid improvement with its third grade team through to another grand final.