While it hadn’t been in his plans so soon, Josh Fraser says the club’s NEAFL head coaching role was an opportunity too good to pass up.
"To be honest, I saw it as something I could potentially jump into in a couple of years, but there’s no time like the present," Fraser told neafl.com.au.
"I needed a day or so to think about it to make sure I wasn’t putting myself in the deep end, but a great opportunity doesn’t come along that often and it was one I thought I couldn’t turn down."
Vacated by former reserves’ boss Shaun Hart, the three-time premiership player departed the Gold Coast with a heavy heart, after being offered significantly greater responsibilities as Director of Coaching at Port Adelaide.
In his final season on the Gold Coast, Fraser played a prominent development role under Hart’s tutelage, and is aware of the big shoes he has been left to fill.
But the 200-game AFL player says he’s more than ready for the challenge, confident he can draw plenty from his playing experience as he heads into the next phase of his AFL career.
"A large part of it is being someone recently out of the game and being able to communicate with those younger players," he said.
"I’ve got some form of empathy for how difficult the game can be at that level and that helps with the relationship, especially with this playing group being a young playing group.
"A lot of those (young) guys now have 50-60 games under their belt.
"They won’t be treated like young kids anymore.
"They’re senior AFL players and the expectations will rise and I haven’t seen anything to suggest that they won’t embrace that challenge."
For Fraser, his main focus is on giving all players the best chance of achieving their AFL dreams.
"My job as coach is to help the players remain in a good head space and make sure they feel confident and ready to go if they have an opportunity (at senior level)," he said.
“It’s a challenge for (SUNS development coaches) Simon Fletcher, Aaron Rogers, and Ashley Prescott and me to continue to make sure the guys are pushing to get the call up and giving us the best chance to win games of footy and perform well."