Magpies lock in new coach

Clunes has locked in Johno Leoncini as senior coach for the next two seasons.

Leoncini had been chasing the Hepburn job vacated by premiership-winning coach Jason Olver, but has signed a deal with the Magpies that will tie him to the position until the end of 2019.

The non-playing leader has been a pillar of the Central Highlands Football League’s junior representative program in recent years and his experience in developing young players was a key factor in being approached for the Clunes job, according to Magpies president Christine Hill.

Hill said Leoncini had been at the top of the club’s list of replacements for Nemani Valucava, who vacated the helm at the end of last season.

Johno Leoncini

Johno Leoncini

“Since last year when we were looking for a coach, we approached Johno then but he was already involved with Hepburn at that stage,” she told The Courier.

“So when Val (Valucava) put in his resignation, we jumped onto Johno straight away...”

Leoncini took up an assistant’s role to Olver at Hepburn this year and was part of the coaching team that delivered the Burras the premiership.

Hill said the club had signed Leoncini for two years to try and give some stability to the role that had been held by a number of different people in recent seasons.

She said Andrew Spence, who was recruited to Clunes for last season, would be one of Leoncini’s assistants, but expected more to be appointed.

Clunes has battled for success in recent times and won just three senior games during 2017, but Hill said it was a more positive outlook with a coach locked in early and “90 per cent” of the playing group from this year signed for the next two seasons.

Hepburn is still yet to announce its replacement for Olver.