Michael Tout has stepped down as coach of Mulwala.
The Murray Football League Lions were without their leader throughout their round one victory against Congupna on Good Friday after Tout resigned in the week leading up to the clash.
‘‘I pulled the pin last week,’’ Tout said.
‘‘It was for my own benefit, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time there but it was just time for me to move on for personal reasons.’’
Tout spent one season at Mulwala’s helm, taking the side from an 8-10 record in 2016 to a 13-6 campaign and finals appearance last year.
A large part of that surge was the inclusion of recruits Ash Froud, Hamish Hosking and Ross Ansaldi, who were brought to the club by Tout.
But Tout was confident the trio would remain with the Lions despite his departure.
‘‘As far as I know they’re staying, I’ve certainly told them to,’’ Tout said.
Mulwala president David Rose praised Tout for his hand in changing the direction of the side’s fortunes, and harboured no ill-will for his decision to step down.
‘‘Mick had to step away for personal reasons with his work and family, and we fully support him on that,’’ Rose said.
‘‘He’s done an enormous job for us, taking us to finals last year after we were tipped down the bottom and improving a heap of our young kids by introducing things like new structures.
‘‘All of those boys that he brought across are all good, they’re staying, so our playing group’s solid and we’re ticking along in the right direction.’’
Assistant coach Jason Sanderson stepped up to fill in for Tout last week and has since been appointed as the full-time senior coach for the season.
Sanderson is a Mulwala stalwart, 2005 O’Dwyer medallist, was named in the Lions’ team of the past three decades (1987-2017) and has coached Jerilderie to premierships in the past.
‘‘He’s certainly not new to the coaching game,’’ Rose said.
Sanderson’s task today is to lead his Lions to victory against Tongala away from home.
The Lions were rusty early against Congupna in round one, but put it all together in the final term to run out comfortable victors.
‘‘We’ve had a bit of a slow pre-season,’’ Sanderson said.
‘‘Hopefully the match fitness will build every time we play.’’
The Blues were handed a lesson by Nathalia last week to the tune of 109 points, but Sanderson will not be underestimating his opponent.
‘‘Tongala will still be a tough match, they’ll want to come out hard after last week,’’ he said.
Froud’s four final-term goals were crucial last week for the Lions, while Beau Clarke and Damian Cook will again look to press the issue with ball in hand.
For the Blues, Hamish Cohen, Matt Roberson, Michael Pryde, Mitch Trevaskis, Riley Bacon, Ryley Cowley and Mark Watson all impressed new coach Jordan Souter last week despite the huge loss.
Cowley, Logan Church and co-captain Corey Nexhip go out of Tongala’s side for today’s match, with new recruit Nick Woods (Congupna) set to debut.