Tony Lockyer is returning to Sebastopol after having his VFL career cut short by the demise of the North Ballarat Roosters.
Lockyer will be an assistant coach with the Ballarat Football League club where he played as a junior before progressing to North Ballarat Rebels in the TAC Cup and then the Roosters.
Well aware of the hard work facing Sebastopol to lift its on-field performance, the 24-year-old defender said he was excited by the challenge.
“There’s a lot of good people doing good work.”
He said outgoing senior coach Shane Snibson had done an outstanding job and while it was a pity he was not continuing in the role he was leaving a strong foundation on which to build.
Lockyer sees stepping into an assistant coaching role as a natural progression after spending several years in the Roosters’ leadership group. He was co-captain this year.
He said he was looking forward to passing on what he had learnt under a series of coaches to Sebastopol’s young list.
The Burra announced the signing of Lockyer at its presentation dinner on Friday night.
The club is hoping to announce a senior head coach as early as next week.
Sebastopol legend Chris Parker said the appointment of Lockyer was a massive boon for the club.
“It’s enormous to have him back. It’s a great pick-up.
“It’s a big vote of confidence for the club to have someone of Tony’s experience and standing wanting to come on board.”
Parker said Lockyer had always indicated he would one day like to return and this was something to build on.
Lockyer said he had first played with Sebastopol as an eight or nine-year-old, and played in an early premiership with Parker as coach.
He said he had played a handful of senior games with the Burra as a teenager before moving onto the Roosters’ VFL list.
Lockyer, who played close to 90 VFL games, retained Sebastopol as his home club – making one appearance in blue and gold in 2016 on his way back from a lengthy early season injury.
He said he had alway retained close ties with the Burra, getting to watch games when he could.
While some of his former Roosters teammates are looking to continue their VFL careers, Lockyer said he was among those unable to pursue this course owing to employment.
Lockyer said with this option off the table he had been keen to play at the highest possible level available.
He said he was eager to continue to push himself as hard as possible.