THE Northern Bullants have moved quickly to fill a gaping hole left in their rebirth with former Adelaide Crows champion Ben Hart promoted to senior coach after Josh Fraser received his hard-earned promotion into AFL coaching ranks this week.
Fraser, 39, has returned to Collingwood to head the Academy of the club that drafted him at No.1 in 1999 and where he played 200 AFL matches from 2000-10.
He will work with the Magpies' first-to-third-year players, including father-son Nick Daicos who will arrive in next month's NAB AFL Draft, and last year's top pick in classy forward Oliver Henry.
Fraser, who also played 18 AFL games with Gold Coast in 2011-12, has been the face of the Bullants' revival after the end of their 20-year alignment with Carlton early last year, leading the club from football’s deathbed back onto the VFL field with three wins from 10 matches in an impressive renaissance.
It was his third senior coaching appointment after leading the Suns' NEAFL team in 2014-15 and the Northern Blues from 2016-19.
The Bullants have found the ideal replacement in Hart, who was Fraser's senior assistant coach this year and is the best-placed person to continue along the path back to becoming a strong standalone club in the second-tier competition.
An Australian Football Hall of Famer, Hart, 47, played a then games-record 311 AFL matches for the Crows from 1992-2006, winning two premierships, two best-and-fairests and four All-Australian blazers, including his first two seasons at 18 and 19, and also spent five years as an assistant coach at Collingwood.
His son Zac, 21, is a developing player in the Bullants' defence, playing all 10 matches and averaging 12 disposals with a best of 22 in his second game against Box Hill Hawks.
"When I first arrived at Preston I was captured by its people, its passion and the very evident Bullants spirit," Hart told the club's website.
"I am excited and thrilled to have the opportunity to coach this wonderful football club and continue to build on the fantastic work that has been done by so many in the past as we look forward to a bright future.
"Josh leaves with an enormous amount of pride for the work he has done to see the revival of the Northern Bullants.
"He has played an integral part in rebuilding this historic and successful football club (and) certainly epitomises the Preston way."
Fraser told the club's website that Preston City Oval would always hold a special place in his heart.
"When I reflect on the journey we have been through to re-establish the club as a standalone entity from the ground up, it gives me enormous pride," Fraser said.
"Throughout all the challenges thrown our way we embraced and adapted together as a football club and did things the Preston way, with every effort and intention of keeping this famous club alive.
"The Bullants are about the people. Coaches, medical, high performance and volunteers have made this club special.
"I have so much admiration and respect for our players. Their love for the club, jumper and each other was evident in the way they played. They played with unconditional Ants spirit and I am a better coach for having been involved with this group."
Fraser told collingwoodfc.com.au he was "thrilled" to be back at Olympic Park.
"A part of me has always remained with Collingwood, so returning is exciting, but the professional challenge is what I'm most excited about," he said.
"To help build and mould a new squad under the guidance of Craig McRae and the team is a wonderful opportunity."