THE Murray Bushrangers’ preparations for the coming TAC Cup season have been disrupted, with coach Phil Bunn leaving the club to take up a position with AFL club Port Adelaide.
The 2008 premiership- winning mentor will join the Power as a full-time Victorian recruiting officer, forcing the Bushies to find a replacement coach just two months before the start of the season.
Bunn, who has been involved with the Power’s talent identification and recruiting program since its inception into the AFL in 1997, will move to Melbourne to take up the position.
Bunn admitted the timing of his departure was a shame.
“The timing isn’t ideal, that’s the only downside, but it’s a great opportunity and one I’m very much looking forward to,” he said yesterday.
“I’ve actually been involved with Port Adelaide since day one (1997) — obviously when I became coach of the Bushies, I had to scale back my work with the Power but I still kept in contact and they knew I had an interest in that side of things.
“When they asked me to throw my hat into the ring, I jumped at the chance.”
Murray region manager Andrew Carson said the loss of Bunn would be a setback but the club supported his decision.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for Phil, and an exciting challenge in an area that has been of great appeal to him over the last 12 years,” Carson said.
“Obviously you don’t like to see good people leave your organisation, but that’s the way it goes.
“I’d like to acknowledge the time and effort Phil has contributed to the Bushrangers.
“He coached the under-16 team, was an assistant coach with the under-18 team and held the head coaching position for seasons 2008 and 2009, with the 2008 premiership an obvious highlight.”
Carson said the Bushies would soon advertise the vacant position, adding the club’s current assistant coaches, Mark Knobel, Leon Higgins and Darren Ogier, would be right in the mix.
“We’ve got some extremely capable assistant coaches and I imagine something like this would appeal to them,” he said.