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Newly-appointed South Mildura coach John Pratt in action with Ovens and Murray Football League club Wodonga. Picture: Border Mail

SOUTH Mildura have secured former Norwood and West Adelaide player John Pratt as senior playing coach for the next two seasons.

Pratt’s signing finalises appointments in the Sunraysia Football Netball League (SNFL) for 2019.

Bulldog officials travelled to Adelaide on Tuesday to meet with Pratt to finalise details of the agreement.

Pratt’s appointment comes only weeks after South missed out on Imperials star Brad Hards who decided to stay at City Oval.

The Bulldogs announced at the end of the 2018 season they were in the market for a playing coach after being led by Craig Davison (2015-16) and Pat Irwin (2017-18) as non playing coaches.

Pratt a solidly build midfielder, has an impressive football resume having debuted with Norwood in the South Australian National Football League (SANFL) in 2007 before joining West Adelaide.

He spent time in the powerful Ovens Murray Football League as assistant coach with Wodonga before returning to South Australia to play with Torrens Valley in The Hills Football League.

Pratt 32, travelled overseas at the end of 2017 before returning to play with Labrador in the Queensland Australian Football League this year.

The talented left footer said he was looking forward to the challenge of his first senior coaching role and developing the young Bulldogs list.

“I sppose the thing which really attracted me to the club (South Mildura) was that they do have a young list and I think in some ways that makes it a lot easier to mould them into the team that you want,” Pratt said. “I don’t have any illusions, but it’s very exciting from any point of view – through the whole process they have been extremely professional and that was one of the reasons I have made my decision.”

Pratt’s signing is part of a major overhaul at the kennel as they set their sights on re-building themselves as a force in the future in the SFNL.

Club official Alan Cameron has played a major role in the appointment of Pratt and has been an important figure behind the scenes setting the on-field direction for the club moving forward.

Cameron said Pratt’s appointment had come after an exhaustive search to find the right person to lead the club into the future.

“We made a decision probably four weeks before the end of last season that we needed a person who could lead from the front on the field – someone who was going to set a standard both on and off the ground,” Cameron said.

“The foundations are there, we have a group of young fellas who have been developing well over the past couple of years, but we just felt the right direction for the club was to have a playing coach – someone who over the next two or three years can take us to where we want to be. We are very excited to finally get John (Pratt) on board – this has been a two year process.  We started talking to him a couple of years ago and he was very close to coming then, but decided the time wasn’t right for a number of reasons.”

“Fortunately for us, his circumstances have changed and he is very excited about helping take us to the next level. He has a brand of football which he wants to install into our young group – a brand that has worked for him as a player”.

Story courtesy of Sunraysia Daily

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