Whoever takes over the role of head coach of the Bendigo Pioneers has big shoes to fill, according to interim coach Danny O'Bree.
The former South Bendigo and Mildura senior coach has been appointed interim coach of the Pioneers after the resignation of Damian Truslove.
Truslove finishes with the club at the end of January before O'Bree takes over until a new head coach is appointed.
"He's a great man Damian. He's a massive loss for the club, we're all devastated,'' O'Bree said.
"A lot of people talk the talk, but Damian backs that up by really walking the walk.
"The way he builds relationships (was his greatest strength). His communication was so good for staff, the kids and parents.
"He was such an asset for the club."
O'Bree applied for the coaching role when Truslove was appointed.
It turned out to be a blessing of sorts for O'Bree, who was able to increase his coaching knowledge through Truslove's guidance.
"I'll see what the next few weeks look like, but I'm pretty keen to throw my hat in the ring again,'' he said.
"I think the program is on the right track.
"I'm all for stability, but if someone of the quality of Damian came along again then I'd be happy to work under someone like him again."
An elite midfielder/small forward in his playing days, O'Bree took a break from footy after he retired in 2011.
He returned to the game he loves as a coach with the AFLCV Academy before joining the Bendigo Pioneers in an assistant role at the end of 2015 under Brett Henderson.
That role continued with Rick Coburn and Truslove where he worked as a line coach with the midfielders, forwards and defenders.
O'Bree also runs the Bendigo South East College football component of its Athletic Development Program.
Coaching boys and girls through their teenage years is different to the country club environment that consumed O'Bree as a player and coach.
"In a (local) club environment it's all about win, win, win,'' O'Bree said.
"The Pioneers is a club environment as well, but it's not quite the same.
"I'm a competitive beast and it can be challenging when you don't win games, but when you see the development of young players, not only as footballers, but as human beings it's very rewarding."
O'Bree's own development as a coach has seen him rewarded with a place to study for his level three coaching accreditation.
It's another step towards his ultimate goal of working in football full-time.
"I'm super keen to get involved with footy full time,'' O'Bree said.
"Damian (Truslove) gave me the opportunity, through a friend of his, to go to the Gold Coast and spend a few days with the Suns and it was a great experience."
After a Christmas-New Year break with family, O'Bree will return to the Pioneers where his first focus will be preparing the girls squad for the start of its NAB League season in February.
The interim coach is not looking too far ahead.
"It's only a short-term thing, but it's nice that they had the faith in me to look after things for a few weeks,'' O'Bree said.
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