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Riley joins Suns coaching ranks

Sportal October 22, 2012, 2:19 pm
Mark Riley

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Gold Coast's coaching panel for 2013 is complete with confirmation former Carlton assistant Mark Riley has joined the club.

Riley is considered a straight swap for the departed Ken Hinkley, who was appointed the new coach of Port Adelaide earlier in the month.

With 18 years of coaching experience under his belt - including a stint as Melbourne's caretaker coach in 2007 - Riley's position at Carlton was made redundant under the new Mick Malthouse regime.

Riley's appointment caps a raft of off-field changes that will see third-year coach Guy McKenna handed more support than ever before.

"We wish Kenny all the best at Port. He's got a big job ahead of him that I know he's looking forward to. But the coaching ranks have been improved," McKenna said.

"If you can replace him with someone like Mark Riley, I think we move forward, quite quickly. The credentials certainly stack up."

Shane O'Bree also left the club to return to Victoria for family reasons and has been replaced by former Power senior coach Matthew Primus.

"We've got an abundance of rucks and Matty can clearly fit in with those blokes. His skill set is vast, his one-on-one ability when he played was very profound and I'm sure he'll bring that to the table," McKenna said.

On top of that, the Suns have added another full-time development coach in Ben Matthews, while Malcolm Blight will continue as director of coaching having moved from his Palm Cove haven in far north Queensland to the tourist strip.

Then there's new high performance manager Stephen Schwerdt, who oversaw the first day of pre-season training at Carrara for players with eight or fewer years of experience.

Despite not being required to attend, skipper Gary Ablett took part in the session.

"That's typical. I think he's done that every year," McKenna said.

"He's had his break, he understands he still has a physical break for the rest of the week, but he'll join the rest of the squad on Friday when they all arrive."

On Sunday, the club will head to Arizona for a two-week training camp.

McKenna said the Coast's third season will be critical following a fair degree of improvement in the latter half of the 2012 campaign.

"They've been on a modified training regime for the first two years but the boys are ready to roll," he said.

"We were the second-worst defensive side last year. The eighth-best side is only four goals better than us, on average. That's a goal a quarter. It's not a lot.

"We've got a pre-season to get our bodies and minds right (and) I would think these boys will be able to consistently play for longer, which is going to give us more opportunities to win."

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