CARLTON'S belief in David Teague flowed through Ikon Park on Thursday morning.
It was the overwhelming feeling as the Blues unveiled the 38-year-old as their new senior coach, with most of it reverberating from his reenergised and reinvigorated players.
In the lead-up to Carlton officially announcing Teague as its new coach, his playing group – many of whom had advocated publicly for him to win the job on a full-time basis – eagerly awaited his entrance. They clapped every late arrival, thinking it was their new boss.
David Teague had the backing of the players after his nine weeks as interim coach. Picture: AFL Photos
Eventually, Teague received his warm welcome – met with rapturous cheers as Carlton's president Mark LoGuidice and CEO Cain Liddle led him into the media room at Ikon Park.
Signed to a three-year deal, ensuring he will remain senior coach until at least the end of the 2022 season, Teague has been entrusted to bring the glory days back to Carlton.
The Blues believe in him. And he believes in his players.
Rapturous applause: Carlton players cheer as David Teague is officially announced as coach. Picture: AFL Photos
"Over the next few years, we're really going to improve," Teague said.
"That's my job now, I've got to help them do that. But I think we're going to be a very competitive football club from this Saturday onwards.
"I think there's going to be improvement. How quick and how that happens, we'll find out over time. But I believe in this playing group and I believe in the direction of the club."
David Teague poses with wife Hannah and children Jack, Lucy and Milla. Picture: AFL Photos
As for whether finals are on the cards next year, Teague smiled and said: "We'll see."
Carlton raised eyebrows over its decision to confirm Teague's appointment with two games remaining in the season, rather than wait until after its campaign ends in a fortnight's time.
But for the Blues, it made sense for a number of reasons.
Firstly, the club knew Teague was the man for them. Secondly, it now enables the Blues to be in a stronger position as it begins a high-profile recruiting raid on star free agents.
Mark LoGuidice and Cain Liddle with David Teague on Thursday. Picture: AFL Photos
"Once we came to the decision … we didn't see any need to wait," Liddle said.
"There's no hiding from the fact that having a coach in place when you're making important list management decisions moving forward – both with your existing list and with potential new players – there's certainly an advantage.
"Where we may have been canvassing David's opinion, he'll now be front and centre in those discussions along with Brad and other people in the football department."
I've always wanted to be a senior coach, and if you gave me the 18 teams and asked which one I would pick, it would be this one - David Teague
The stars are now starting to align for the Blues – and that might help with a potential move for star free agent Stephen Coniglio. According to Liddle, the appointment of Teague will only help boost the club's chances in that area come the NAB AFL Trade Period.
"I look at this club right now, I look at the talented playing list, I look at the off-field stuff, the membership growth, the crowds, the commercial growth and the little things like the close proximity to the CBD in Melbourne," Liddle said.
"I just look at it and think, 'gee if I was a player or an administrator at another club' … why wouldn't you want to come to Carlton?
"A lot of our heavy lifting has been done now. I feel that people coming in the near future will get to take advantage and capitalise on all of that heavy lifting."
TEAGUE ON HIS TIME AS AN INTERIM COACH…
"It was a great opportunity to learn how to go about it, how I would handle it and my ability to impact and influence others. Nine weeks ago, I could see this playing group and I just knew there was more in them. To feel like I've had a part of that to get the best out of them lately, it's been something that I've really enjoyed. To be honest, if I didn't get it, I was probably going to find it hard to go back to being an assistant. I've loved it. The last nine weeks have been right up there with the best nine weeks in terms of my enjoyment."
TEAGUE ON COACHING WHERE HE PLAYED…
"I feel honoured. Getting to play here, my heart was still tied to this football club from my playing days. I understand there's a responsibility that comes along with it, but I'm looking forward to it. But I've always wanted to be a senior coach, and if you gave me the 18 teams and asked which one I would pick, it would be this one."
TEAGUE ON HIS UNIQUE RELATIONSHIP WITH THE PLAYERS…
"I knew I had relationships with the players. One of my fears when I went from a line coach to the interim coach was that I'd lose those relationships with the forwards, because you get spread. But what I've learnt is that I've created a lot more relationships with a lot more guys, which I've really enjoyed. Not only from a playing point of view, but from a club point of view. One of the moments I love most is watching the players' faces after a game. They sing the song and they get excited, but the little bit after the game where they're sitting and talking with each other … seeing them smile in that moment is something I enjoy."
TEAGUE ON HOW THE GAME PLAN WILL IMPROVE…
"We've kept our focus pretty minimal. We want to add layers to it, but we don't want to overcomplicate either. We've seen that with this playing group, if we keep it pretty clear with the messaging then they respond well. But we've definitely got growth areas over pre-season. We're only going to get better."
TEAGUE ON STARTING HIS COACHING CAREER WITH THE BULLANTS…
"I still remember the drills that I did when I started coaching. If I did those drills now, the boys would walk off the track. They would be bored. But you grow. I was very lucky. Those three years where I got to coach the Bullants, I learnt more in that three years than any other period. I got to make so many mistakes and I got to learn from them. I tried things, I saw what works and what didn't work. It's not under the microscope of the AFL intensity. I was very lucky for Carlton to give me that opportunity, I loved it."