Martinello to take on senior coach

By Tyler Maher

Benalla has found its replacement for outgoing coach Luke Morgan.

Saints stalwart James Martiniello will take job at Benalla Showgrounds next season and club president Lloyd Johnson was happy with the internal appointment.

‘‘He has been great for the club, not just from a playing point of view, but he has also been a board member over the years as a player representative,’’ Johnson said.

‘‘We certainly did the due diligence to see what was out there on the market, but James flagged his intent with us and we saw that he was the perfect fit.

‘‘He has always had intentions to coach and now he has the opportunity to do so.

‘‘We’ll continue building on the success we’ve had over the last six years under Luke and move forward under James.

‘‘He has the full board support and is certainly one of our favourite sons in the club.’’

While Martiniello only managed 10 matches this season due to injury troubles, it was enough to push him past the 150-game mark for the Saints and qualify him for life membership.

The premier Goulburn Valley League midfielder also captained Benalla to its 2015 premiership triumph and will continue taking to the field next year as a playing coach.

Morgan led the Saints for six years before announcing his departure last month, landing a playing coach role at the Wangaratta Magpies in the Ovens and Murray Football League shortly after.

‘‘It has been a difficult time and a tough decision,’’ Morgan told the Benalla Ensign.

‘‘The Benalla Saints have been very good to me and allowed me to develop as a coach and I have spent a lot of my playing career there.

‘‘I played over 100 games with them and, at my current age, I won’t play 100 games anywhere else.

‘‘I’m grateful to have been allowed to do that and have had great support along the way.

‘‘I’m excited for the new challenge and fresh start.’’