Jacobs signs on as Zebras assistant for 2022 VFL season
Former Port Adelaide and North Melbourne midfielder Ben Jacobs is joining the club as an assistant coach, replacing Chris Mckay who takes on additional responsibilities with AFL affiliate St Kilda.
Photo by AFL Media
The former Sandringham Dragons and Brighton Grammar product spent 10 years at the elite level as a player and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the club.
His AFL career began in November 2010 when Port Adelaide selected him with pick 16 in the national draft, with the courageous tagger spending two years at Alberton before joining North Melbourne with pick 37 in 2012.
Heading into 2022, Jacobs is looking forward to beginning his VFL coaching journey with a young and exciting Zebras squad.
“I’m very excited to be a part of such a great club,” he said.
The Zebras hold sentimental importance for Jacobs, who remembers watching them as a youngster before he entered the AFL system.
“I’m a local boy and I’ve grown up watching the Zebras living down in Beaumaris with my parents,” he said.
Jacobs seamlessly transitioned into coaching after his North Melbourne career ended in 2020, gaining valuable experience with his old secondary school as an assistant in 2021.
“I went to Brighton Grammar as a kid, so going down there and helping their program out was a lot of fun,” he said.
“COVID was a bit of a struggle with getting the games in, but the one on one work I was able to do was great and it sparked my passion for the development side of things especially.”
The Zebras had a youthful coaching panel this year, and in 2022 it’s likely to be a similar mix with 29-year-old Jacobs joining the club.
He believes the ability to form relationships with players who aren’t too much younger will benefit the Zebras coaching panel.
“I think with the way the game is going you’ve got to be more relatable to the players, and having such a young coaching group allows that because Jake and the other coaches have been through similar circumstances,” he said.
“We’ll be able to bond the group quite tightly because of that.”
There’s a sense of familiarity between Jacobs and the Zebras senior coach too, as he played football with Batchelor as a youngster.
“Jake and I played in the state side together when we were 15, so we’re very similar and obviously went through the same pathway so it’s been good to reconnect with him after so long,” he said.
When asked about Jacobs joining the Zebras as an assistant, Batchelor said he was “really excited” to have him on board.
Ben Jacobs at North training. Photo AFL Media
“He’s had some great experience at AFL level as a player, and despite not playing the last couple of years I think it’s a bit of a silver lining that he can transfer into coaching and help us a football team,” he said.
Batchelor revealed Jacobs will be responsible for the midfield in 2022 as a “straight swap” for former assistant Chris Mckay.
“He’ll be the midfield line coach with us,” he said.
“He was a great player and learned by playing on the best so we feel like he’ll bring a lot to our program. We’re really happy to have his services for the upcoming year.”
In addition to his work at Sandringham, Jacobs will be involved at St Kilda as a part-time development coach.
Batchelor also paid tribute to Mckay who now moves into a different role within St Kilda’s AFL program after spending the last two years at the Zebras.
“Chris is a great person, he understands football really well so we’re definitely going to miss him,” he said.
“There wasn’t many people from St Kilda who transferred down to Sandy last year, but Chris was one of them and his ability to connect the AFL mids (midfielders) and the VFL mids was great to watch.”
Written by Jack Bennett - Sandringham Football Club Media