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LAST YEAR saw two senior coaches depart their posts, albeit it in very different circumstances.
John Worsfold's pre-planned handover to Ben Rutten at Essendon meant the Bombers officially changed coaches at the end of the season, while Rhyce Shaw's personal issues meant after only one full season in charge at North Melbourne he was replaced by David Noble.
But who are the next batch of senior coaches and where could they come from?
AFL.com.au has scanned the competition to find the possible first-time senior coaches who have built up strong reputations and coaching CVs to put themselves in the discussion when roles next become vacant.
Scott Burns (Adelaide)
Now senior assistant coach at Adelaide, Burns has built a well-rounded resume in over a decade as an assistant coach. At West Coast (2009-13), Collingwood (2014-17) and Hawthorn (2018-20), he has been highly regarded and viewed as a mentor capable of taking the next step. A graduate of the AFL's level four coaching course, the 46-year-old was targeted to help Adelaide rebuild under Matthew Nicks and has made a quick impact over the summer leading the backline.
Danny Daly (Brisbane)
Could the long-time assistant coach eventually make a similar move to former colleague David Noble? Daly held coaching role at North Melbourne and Richmond before joining the Lions, where he has spent the past six years, including four in a football strategy role. He replaced Noble as football manager and is highly regarded in the industry. As life experience and management skills become more valued in senior coaches, could Daly be a person of interest? Noble's success at North could pave the path.
Daniel Giansiracusa (Essendon)
The Bombers swooped to poach Giansiracusa from the Bulldogs ahead of the 2021 season. The former Western Bulldogs star was named the 2020 AFL Coaches Association assistant of the year last season, having undertaken a steady growth in duties at the club: its forward line, stoppages and set play and also steering Footscray's VFL side as its senior coach. Giansiracusa, who will look after the Bombers' defence this season, is highly rated and has added an increased focus on craft work to Essendon's pre-season. North Melbourne sounded out Giansiracusa last year for its vacant senior coaching spot before settling on David Noble.
Jaymie Graham (West Coast)
Sounded out by North Melbourne during their search for a new coach last year, Graham committed his future to West Coast before David Noble was eventually appointed. A development coach at St Kilda then West Coast, where he also coached East Perth as part of the Eagles' WAFL alignment, the highly regarded 38-year-old has looked after both the defenders (2017-19) and forwards (2020-21) under Adam Simpson. He led the Eagles to a 51-point win against the Western Bulldogs in round two, 2018, when Simpson was unavailable for family reasons.
Robert Harvey (Collingwood)
Was interviewed by North Melbourne for its vacant senior coaching position in November and will be in the conversation again if clubs continue to favour experience. This will be Harvey's 13th year in the coaches' box after his stellar career with St Kilda ended in 2008. The dual Brownlow medallist enters his 10th campaign at the Pies in 2021 and has shared every moment alongside Nathan Buckley. Harvey will again take control of the club's midfield after a previous stint with the backs.
Steven King (Western Bulldogs)
King is Luke Beveridge's right-hand man at Whitten Oval, having been at the Kennel for a decade. The ex-ruckman was elevated to senior assistant coach ahead of the 2019 season, having been in control of the Bulldogs' midfield in their breakthrough 2016 premiership campaign. Having spent time at St Kilda as a ruck/midfield coach after his playing career, when he featured in the Cats' 2007 flag, King is handed plenty of responsibility at the Bulldogs in their football program.
Adam Kingsley (Richmond)
Having been a leading candidate for Adelaide's coaching position at the end of 2015, when Don Pyke was appointed, Kingsley again spoke with the Crows for their vacant job at the end of 2019 before he pulled out of the race. The Port Adelaide premiership player impressed in his time at St Kilda as an assistant before joining Richmond in 2019 and featuring as part of the club's back-to-back premiership coaching panel to add to a strong coaching CV. Kingsley has moved from the midfield group to the Tigers' defence this year to further his growth.
Nigel Lappin (Geelong)
An understated member of Geelong's coaching panel externally, Lappin is hugely influential at GMHBA Stadium where he is praised for his worth ethic. Now controlling Geelong's ball movement, Lappin enters his 13th consecutive season in the Cats' coaches' box after accepting a role immediately after his decorated playing career. Lappin, who tasted three flags as a player (2001-2003) and has two to his name as a coach (2009, 2011), has held a range of roles including development and midfield at the Cats.
Sam Mitchell (Hawthorn)
Seen by many as the coach-in-waiting after Alastair Clarkson at Hawthorn, Mitchell's development will take another step when he takes the reins of his own side this year. Mitchell will combine his role as Hawks head of development with coaching the club's VFL affiliate Box Hill. After retiring in 2017, the four-time premiership Hawk was the brains of West Coast's midfield in their 2018 flag before crossing to Waverley Park where his responsibilities grow year on year.
Jarrad Schofield (Port Adelaide)
After leading WAFL club Subiaco to premierships in 2014, 2015 and 2018, Schofield was snapped up by Port Adelaide ahead of the 2019 season. He is in charge of the midfield in a team that came within a kick of a Grand Final appearance in 2020. Noted for his ability to communicate with experienced stars and young draftees equally well, he is leading a dynamic midfield at the Power.
Adem Yze (Melbourne)
Returned to his old club this year to take control of the midfield after nine years at Hawthorn. Time under Clarkson – that seven current senior coaches have on their resume – is a crucial component to his coaching CV, as well as his mix of roles at Waverley Park that most recently included strategy and opposition. Yze interviewed for Adelaide's vacant senior coaching position at the end of 2019 and has also completed the AFL's Level Four coaching accreditation.