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Falcons start search for new coach

West Perth has commenced the process for Geoff Valentine’s replacement, President Neale Fong confirmed on Wednesday.

Valentine departed the club to take on a development role at Fremantle that will also see the former Falcons premiership player take on the coaching role at Peel Thunder, confirmed on Monday.

Valentine’s departure was a shock to many WAFL pundits, having guided West Perth to three consecutive finals series since replacing Bill Monaghan in 2019.

Speaking on Sports Breakfast, Fong said the club had commenced it’s search for Valentine’s successor.

“We will be looking for someone who understands our DNA at West Perth, and will continue to build on that,” Fong said.

“We’ve set a process in place led by our chief executive Joe McCarthy that’s been ticked off by the board in the last 24 hours.

Fong said the club would chat to internal and external candidates for the position.

“We will speak to internal coaching staff to gauge what their interest might be, but we will cast further afield and have a short sharp process and hope to have someone in two to three weeks time.”

Darren Harris is the front runner for the position, having coached the club to a premiership in 2003 and captained West Perth to a premiership in 1995 and having worked in a leadership position with the club this season after being moved on by Claremont at the end of 2020.

“We’ll certainly be talking to Darren and were talking to Darren anyway, he’s been working with us over the past twelve months,” he said.

“We’ll check of his interest and availability, but there will be others who come on to the horizon for the role.”

West Perth has already announced two player signings for the 2022 season, with Ben Johnson and Luke Meadows returning to the club after stints with West Coast and Williamstown respectively.

Fong also shared his thoughts on the West Coast Eagles reserves withdrawal from the WAFL competition, which has ignited debate among clubs and supporters.

“We want high performing AFL teams West Coast and Fremantle, and they believe they need to have a side that plays together, then why are they not pushing for that right now?”

“That’s my view, and I think we should be exploring what that means. If the AFL are restricting them because of their soft cap and football expenses, then we need to sit down with the WAFL and try and negotiate something because we are a different circumstances.

“We need to look at that. I’m certainly not in favour of them (West Coast) being in and out as they have been the past few years.”

2021 West Coast WAFL captain Hamish Brayshaw is likely to sign with East Perth for 2022, while Mark Hutchings is weighing up offers from both West and East Perth as he searches for a new home after 120 games and a premiership with the Eagles.

IMAGE: The West Australian.

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