A FAMILIAR face will return to the Bendigo Football Netball League after the appointment of Justin Abrams as the new coach of Maryborough.
The Magpies have announced Abrams as their non-playing successor to Ben Lavars, after the departing coach led the senior team to a 6-12 record and sixth-place finish in his second year at the helm.
Abrams, a former AFL Central Victoria regional operations manager, joins the club with a wealth of experience as a coach, administrator and player.
He spent the last five seasons as senior coach of Central Highlands Football League club Dunnstown.
Like Lavars at Maryborough, Abrams oversaw years of steady improvement in his role as coach of the Towners, taking them from 17th to a finals berth in 2018.
The new coach will be hoping to build on some impressive gains made by the Magpies, who recorded their best result this season since 2011.
"I am excited by the opportunity to be taking the senior coaching role at Maryborough, a club that has been steadily improving and where I can continue the development of its young playing list," he said.
An extensive football resume for Abrams includes major league playing stints with both North Ballarat and East Ballarat in the Ballarat Football League.
He made the transition to coaching as the playing coach of Central Highlands league club Newlyn, before accepting an assistant coaching role at Geelong Football League club St Albans under Geelong AFL 1992 grand final player Sean Simpson.
I am excited by the opportunity to be taking the senior coaching role at Maryborough, a club that has been steadily improving and where I can continue the development of its young playing list.Justin Abrams
During this period he also coached St Albans' under-18 team.
Abrams next joined North Ballarat Roosters in the VFL as an assistant to revered coach Gerald Fitzgerald and coached the clubs development squad.
He then moved into football administration and served two years as the AFL Central Victoria region operations manager in 2013-14, before a move back into coaching at Dunnstown.
Abrams announced his decision to step down as coach of the Towners at the end of the 2019 season in July.
Dunnstown Football Netball Club Shane Murphy told Australian Community Media Abrams had done 'fantastic things for the club'.
"He's left us in a much better position than when he arrived. We've got a very young list and the work he's done over his five years has made every one of those men a better footy player," Murphy said.
In a statement released on Tuesday morning, Maryborough Football Netball Club said it hoped Abrams' leadership and experience would 'continue the development of the playing list and positive club culture, ultimately leading to a stronger and more successful club in 2020'.
"MFNC thanks outgoing coach Ben Lavars, who has had a successful two years at the club, significantly improving the club's culture and on-field performance," the statement said.
"Ben is returning to Geelong and the club wishes he, (wife) Taylar and (son) Lucky all the best and is greatly appreciative of their time at the club."
Abrams, who is based in Ballarat, is married to Ange and has three children Jake, Lachie and Macy.
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