West Coast champion Dean Cox has some big shoes to fill when he takes over the ruck coaching duties at the Sydney Swans this week.
Stephen Taubert, a larger than life figure, with a distinguished playing career, returned to the Sydney Swans in 1999 to take up a part-time specialist ruck coaching role.
After 18 years in the role, working with some of the competition's premier rucks Darren Jolly, Jason Ball, Greg Stafford and Shane Mumford, Stephen announced his retirement from the game.
Once dubbed the 'ruck whisperer', Taubert's finest effort was transforming former Rugby international Mike Pyke into an AFL premiership winning ruckman.
“Probably the fondest memory was what Mike Pyke achieved,” Taubert said.
“It was such a battle to get him there. It was such an achievement for him to do what he did. He started from so far back and he won a grand final.”
Looking back on his career, Taubert said it felt like the right time to hang up the boots.
“The Swans have been part of my life since 1982 when the club first moved to Sydney and over that time I’ve just had the most incredible journey,” Taubert said.
“I’ve been able to work with some amazing people from all of the coaches, players and support staff.
“I’ve made enduring friendships, been part of five grand finals and multiple finals series but the time has come for someone else to hold the ruck bag.
“I’ve been lucky enough to be able to keep in touch with the majority of players I worked with over the years and I look forward to watching the current Swans ruckmen continue to develop and fulfil their potential.”
He's been a great asset for the club, and senior coach John Longmire thanked his for his long and distinguished contribution.
“Stephen has been a great servant of this football club who has helped a number of ruckmen over his journey,” Longmire said.
“He has spent an incredible amount of hours here for a part-time employee, building up a number of strong relationships both on and off the field.
“We thank Stephen for his contribution over many years and wish him all the best for the future.”
Premiership ruckman Mike Pyke was effusive in his praise for the retired ruck coach, his ability to bridge generational gaps, and his ability to relate to players.
“What made Taubo special was not just being a great coach but the type of person he was around the change rooms,” Pyke said.
“He wasn’t a full time coach so he was able to give a view that the other coaches couldn’t.
“He was a connection to the AFL of yesteryear, he bridged all football generations.
“The amount of players who had success under him is pretty impressive.
“You always look at your own club but I suspect our list holds up pretty well against the other clubs over the time Taubo has been at the Swans.”
While yet to be formally announced by either club, Cox's move east was unofficially confirmed on Monday by the West Coast Eagles.
Beating off the Cats and the Eagles, the Swans are looking to the future with legendary coach Taubert handing over the torch.
The 2006 AFL premiership player is one of the best players the Eagles have produced. He's a life time member of the club, played 290 games in a distinguished career, and is widely regarded was one of the best ruckman to have played the game.
Cox spent the last season of his playing career in 2014 as an assistant coach, before stepping into the role full time in 2015, taking charge of the ruck and stoppages.
“We’re really excited to have someone of Dean’s calibre and experience join the Swans as an assistant coach for the 2018 season and beyond,” Sydney football manager Tom Harley said.
“Dean will bring a fresh perspective following a highly decorated and successful playing career, as well as a solid foundation in the assistant coaching ranks. We look forward to welcoming Dean and his family to the Swans.”
The Swans have well and truly shaken things up the last month, after exiting the finals in a lacklustre display against the Cats.
Only current coaches Brett Kirk and John Longmire have survived the great exodus from the Sydney Swans, with highly regarded senior coaches Josh Francou (Adelaide), Henry Playfair (St Kilda) and Stuart Dew (Gold Coast) moving onto other roles.
Stephen Taubert joins that list with his retirement, and is joined by Rhyce Shaw, promoted to the senior coaching team, and Nick Davis, promoted to a director role at the Academy.
Sydney Swans 2018 Coaching Team:
John Longmire: Senior coach
John Blakey: Director of Coaching and Head of Development
Dean Cox: Assistant coach *
Brett Kirk: Assistant coach — midfield and stoppages
Rhyce Shaw: Assistant coach — defence *
Steve Johnson: Assistant coach — forwards *
Tadhg Kennelly: Development coach *
Jeremy Laidler: Development coach *
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