THE Launceston Football Club has appointed former club captain Scott Stephens as its senior coach for next season.
Incumbent Brennan Savage is stepping into an assistant coaching and junior development/community liaison role.
The club announced the change yesterday, with Stephens having been close to accepting an offer to coach the new Prospect-based TSL club Western Storm.
Stephens, 30, is a 176-game, four-time premiership player with the Blues, life member and winner of five McCauley Medals for senior best and fairest player.
He has signed as playing coach for the next two years, with Savage continuing as a player and assistant coach.
Stephens said he had a new career direction under way and had decided that he was ready to coach.
``Now it is official there is a fair bit of excitement there,'' he said.
``To coach a club that I have had so much history with through family and playing and mates is exciting.
``I was very close to signing with Western Storm on Friday, and then Lonnie threw a curve ball with Brennan's position so I took 24 hours to reassess and go from there.''
Stephens said his ties to the Blues and the club's established resources swayed his decision to opt for the Launceston job over the Western Storm.
``The opportunity was there to help start a club from below scratch and set it up how I wanted, which really appealed to me with Western Storm,'' he said.
``But they've got a lot of challenges ahead with their facilities and that was going to be an extremely difficult challenge not only for the board but for the coach _ whether it be a new coach like myself or an experienced coach.
``At the end of the day those things just outweighed and tipped me in Lonnie's direction.''
Stephens spoke to Savage on Friday about his Western Storm offer but said in no way was he pushed from his position.
Launceston club president Malcolm Atkins said Savage would take on the senior assistant's role as well as the club's talent academies work from under-12 to under-16 age groups and work with sporting and business groups to promote the use of the club's facilities.
``Those areas will be near enough to full-time work for him, so he is stepping into another bigger role while Scott will take on the senior coaching role,'' Atkins said.
``Initially the roles Sav was asked to take on including the senior coach was a big role and he has a young family.
``We didn't want to lose Scott Stephens, and this is what Brennan has come up with.
``It suits him to have a 35-hour job in an academy junior development role which he likes and did at Clarence.
``And it allows Scott to take on the job he wants most, which is to be senior coach.''
Atkins said Savage had undergone a couple of off-season operations and would play on next season.