Former Darley Cricket Club coach Heath Pritchard will take the reins at Melton South following its decision to cut ties with Ash Manning.
Pritchard took Darley to the 2016-17 Ballarat Cricket Association first grade grand final and has been a senior runner for Port Melbourne in the Victorian Football League for the past six years under decorated coach Gary Ayres.
Pritchard also worked at the Carlton Football Club as an opposition analyst and was on the Melton South committee prior to joining Port Melbourne.
Pritchard said a chat with Ayres on Tuesday encouraged him to take on the role which will be his first time as senior head coach, having coached a lot at junior level.
The interim coach said the remainder of the season was about moving the club in the right direction.
“At the end of the day the players and myself have to take ownership of the next 10 weeks,” Pritchard said.
“We’ve just got to try and build on the stuff that Ash has been trying to implement.
“When these sorts of things happen there’s a bit of upheaval, so it’s about trying to settle the club down, get everything pointing in the same direction and trying to win some games of footy.
“Obviously there’s been a lot of stuff on social media about where the club’s at, (but) we’ve just got to block out the outside noise and worry about what we’re doing inside the four walls of the Melton South.”
Pritchard has quickly turned his attention to this week’s clash with Sebastopol.
In a further reshuffle to the Panthers coaching ranks, co-coach Brendan Fevola will take a step back into an assistant coaching role.
Melton South stand-in president Matt Collins said given Fevola’s increased workload with his Footy Show commitments since joining the club was making it difficult to fulfil the initial joint coaching role.
Fevola is still recovering from an Achilles injury and expected him to miss the next couple of weeks.
Melton South sacked Manning after the club made an 0-6 start to the Ballarat Football League season, saying he was not the right man for the job at the present time.