Sandringham Football Club announces Sam Dunell, Trent Dennis-Lane, Jimmy House and Chris McKay as assistant coaches for the 2021 season.
Sam Dunell & Trent Dennis-Lane are the latest headline additions to Sandringham's new look coaching panel for season 2021 in the VFL/East Coast 2nd tier competition. The club is also pleased to announce that Jimmy House & Chris McKay will be joining the club in coaching roles.
All four men bring a wide range of coaching and playing experience to their new roles and will join Jake Batchelor (Senior Coach) and Mark Williams (Senior Assistant Coach) in leading the team.
Former Saint and Zebra Sam Dunell returns to the club as a playing coach, fresh off 100 games with Williamstown in a similar role, where he won the 2015 Premiership and was selected in two VFL Team of the Year sides. Dunell also played 12 games for St Kilda from 2012-2014 and during that time represented the Zebras on 43 occasions. He has kicked 208 goals in his VFL career so far and while his coaching is valued, his on-field skills will be just as vital to the Zebras’ fortunes.
The 30-year-old who already has a good relationship with Batchelor and Dennis-Lane, admits he is “really keen” to begin his new role.
“It’s a bit of a return from where I began. I had an affiliation with Sandy back when I was on St Kilda’s list and I spent a bit of time at Sandringham and really enjoyed my time there,” he said.
“Since then I’ve been trialling getting into coaching. I was a coach at Williamstown just looking after the forward line group there and this opportunity came up and now I’m really excited to get involved in the new look VFL.”
As a new player and coach Dunell is hoping to earn respect through his actions.
“As a player I want to earn that respect and train with intensity to hopefully help the younger guys and show them what’s required from a training perspective to really be able to compete,” he said.
“For coaching I’m really looking to focus on helping young guys achieve their goals. Whether that’s to debut in the VFL, or to play every game and try and get on an AFL list.”
“I’m really excited by the opportunity to hopefully be able to share the experience that I have with others to help them improve.”
Sandy fans will be familiar with Trent Dennis-Lane who is a former captain of the club with 55 games to his name. Since leaving Sandy four years ago, the ex- AFL Saint and Swan has had a playing/ assistant coaching position at Bonbeach, as well as a coaching role with St Kilda’s NGA Academy which he took up this year.
“I feel like I’ve got a little bit of unfinished business at the Zebbies, so I’m stoked to be back involved,” Dennis-Lane said.
“I finished up there four years ago, so I still have some pretty good relationships down there and it also ties down nicely with the stuff I’m doing down at St Kilda at the moment.”
For now Dennis-Lane’s focus is on “keeping an open mind” and learning as much as he can.
“The next twelve months is really about being a sponge and learning the ropes,” he said.
“I’m excited to get stuck in and learn from some good people and hopefully impart a little of my own flavour as well.”
Jimmy House has head-coaching experience in the Northern Football League where he guided North Heidelberg to a Division 1 finals appearance in 2018 and was subsequently named AFL Victoria Coach of the Year (Northern Region). House was appointed Head Coach at Airport West in the EDFL ahead of the cancelled 2020 season.
“I’m ecstatic with the opportunity that’s been presented by Batch (Jake Batchelor) and Josh (Vella) and I’m looking to really sink my teeth in,” House said.
“It’s the start of probably the next chapter for me. I felt that I’d done a ten year apprenticeship at local level in a number of different forms and to get an opportunity like this, I’m really looking forward to the development that’s going to come and what I’m going to learn over the journey now.”
The appointment of young coach Jake Batchelor as well as Sandy’s reputation was really appealing for House in taking the role.
“Jake being a really young coach, raw in a sense, I felt a connection with him straight away in terms of his goals and methodologies, which sort of aligned with how I go about my coaching,” House said.
“You know Sandringham footy club speaks for itself. It’s got a fantastic reputation in the industry and whether it be player pathway or coach pathway, everyone that goes through the door speaks extremely high of it.
“It’s a foreign place for me but it will become fairly familiar throughout the year and I’m looking forward to it.”
Chris McKay has been an analyst with St Kilda for eight years and began his assistant coaching role this year before the season was cancelled. Mckay has previously been an Assistant Coach at Frankston and also spent time with Sandy as a player for the club’s VFL Development League side between 2013-16.
“I’m really keen to start. I didn’t get to fulfil the role in 2020 so I’m really excited to get back into things next week for training,” McKay said.
“It’s going to be really good to work alongside some of the new coaches that have been appointed. I’m looking forward to it.
“Batch is very exploratory in his coaching, so it’s going to be exciting to see how he gets the players involved with learning the game more effectively.
“He’s really good with his relationships as a coach so I’m sure that’s something that I can learn from as part of my own growth.
“And Wilbur as a Senior Assistant to Batch, he’s going to be really important, not only helping us coaches set the game plan and teach it properly but also in seeing us develop and giving us feedback as a coaching group.”
Mckay’s personal coaching goals surround “the relationships side of things”.
“Being an analyst at the Saints means that you can always get better at the tactical knowledge of the game, but I’ve got a sound base there,” he said.
“My coaching at Sandy and Frankston in the past has often been about building strong relationships with the players you work with, to get them to trust you and work with them effectively to help them develop and help them achieve their own goals.”
Written by Matthew Hughes - Sandringham Football Club Media