Grand final coaches Craig McRae and Chris Fagan have been overlooked for the AFL’s coach-of-the-year award.
McRae has powered Collingwood to Saturday’s decider in just his second season as head coach, while Fagan – who started coaching Brisbane in 2017 and is 62 years old – is set to become the oldest AFL/VFL grand final coach in the history of the game.
The AFL Coaches Association’s (AFLCA) highest honour, however, went to Greater Western Sydney’s Adam Kingsley, who capped an extraordinary debut season in charge of the Giants by taking them to the preliminary final.
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After taking on the job vacated by long-time coach Leon Cameron, Kingsley endured a tough start to his career at the Giants before almost qualifying for a grand final in his first season.
GWS fell just one point short of Collingwood in last Friday night’s preliminary final after winning sudden-death matches away against St Kilda and Port Adelaide.
In 2022 the Giants finished third bottom, but this year they built a reputation of being able to win all over the country.
Adam Kingsley with his Giants ahead of the elimination final against St Kilda. Credit: AFL Photos via Getty Images
They won at 11 different venues throughout the season – a VFL/AFL record.
The 48-year-old was awarded 263 votes from his peers, ahead of last year’s winner McRae (197) and Fagan (164).
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“It’s a tremendous honour to receive this award, particularly given it’s an award voted on by the other coaches,” Kingsley said.
“I’m grateful for the support I’ve received this season from the club and our players but also a whole new coaching group, and I’m exceptionally proud of the way we’ve come together to build a whole new program.
“While still disappointed by the result on Friday night, in time I think we’ll look back on this season with a great amount of pride, particularly in the growth of our group.”
GWS started the Kingsley era in shaky fashion, slumping to 15th on the ladder with a 3-7 record after 10 rounds.
But the Giants stormed home to secure seventh spot before winning at the MCG and the Adelaide Oval in the finals.
“We all saw last Friday night the improvement the Giants have made in such a short amount of time and Adam deserves a ton of credit for the way he has applied himself and organised his team to again be one of the most dangerous up and coming sides in the AFL competition,” AFLCA boss Alistair Nicholson said.
Before joining GWS, Kingsley had a 15-year apprenticeship at Port Adelaide, St Kilda and then Richmond.
– With AAP
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