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The Teague myth: Why the 'training wheels' are well and truly off

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A MYTH has developed around David Teague's coaching inexperience.

Training wheels? Not quite.

In reality, Teague has the type of coaching credentials very few AFL hopefuls possess.

David Teague watches over Patrick Cripps at Carlton training. Picture: AFL Photos

The misnomer around Teague's experience as a coach perhaps stems from the Carlton caretaker role being the first senior AFL coaching position he has held. At least on a subconscious level, the fact he is just 38 years of age might also play into it.

Regardless, it's a view that undoubtedly spread after the comments Chris Judd – a Blues board member and part of the panel that will select the club's next coach – made last week.

"We want an experienced coach that can take us to the next level – we don't want someone with training wheels on," Judd said on Footy Classified.

"(Teague) has in effect coached his own team, but that's not really the same as being an actual senior coach of a football team with the pressure that comes with that."

NO HARM DONE Teague dismisses concern over Judd's 'training wheels' call

Judd has since moved to clarify his comments, claiming that his "training wheels" remark wasn't directed at Teague in particular. However, his comments regarding Teague not having coached his own team – and dealing with that sort of pressure – don't stack up.

The fact is, not many potential suitors for vacant senior positions across the League have already coached their own AFL team, their own VFL team and have a total of nine years' worth of experience as an assistant coach at AFL level under their belt.

Teague does.

He also has a rather remarkable track record of instant success, regardless of his club.

Having retired from an 83-game AFL career at the end of 2007, Teague was handed his very first coaching job – as a player/coach at the Northern Bullants – the very next year.

Within two seasons, Teague – aged just 27 – had taken the VFL side from ninth on the ladder with an 8-10 record to back-to-back Grand Final appearances.

Ahead of the 2011 season, he was rewarded with a job as an assistant coach at West Coast, who had finished last the year before he joined, looking after its defence. In his first season with the Eagles, they were in a preliminary final, while they followed it up with a semi-final berth the year after.

After three years with West Coast, Teague had one wooden-spoon year at St Kilda in 2014 under Alan Richardson, before joining Adelaide.

Again, Teague's arrival at the Crows coincided with the team going from 10th on the ladder the year before he joined to successive semi-finals appearances in 2015 and 2016.

They won the minor premiership and made the Grand Final in his last year with the club, with Teague looking after a forward line featuring Taylor Walker, Tom Lynch, Josh Jenkins, Eddie Betts and Charlie Cameron that fired on all cylinders throughout the year.

Teague talks with Crow Tom Lynch after a game in 2016. Picture: AFL Photos

Teague's impact in his short time as Carlton's interim coach should therefore come as no surprise. He's won three of his first five games in charge – two of which were achieved on the road and the other against a genuine top-four contender in Brisbane.

 

It's as many wins as Carlton managed in its previous 34 matches.

The manner and the spirit of the side's victories should also count towards something. The Blues were 37 points down against the Lions and 30 points down against the Dockers, before controlling the large majority of their win over the Swans on Saturday.

 

Furthermore, the club's two losses under Teague have been by a combined total of just eight points, with the team scoring in excess of 100 points in both defeats.

 

The Blues had hit the 100-point mark just once in 67 games before Teague took over.

As the club's CEO, Cain Liddle, said after Judd's comments last week, Carlton is yet to rule anyone in or out of contention for its vacant senior coaching position. But earlier indications that Teague wasn't a serious frontrunner for the role should be disregarded.

His record, both at Ikon Park and beyond, suggests he should be a leading candidate.

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