Most decisions Josh Fraser makes these days are with an eye on the future. Even the retired AFL ruckman’s choice to return last December to his junior club Mansfield over other suitors was more about the future than the past. Fraser, 31, is a budding coach with a passion for development.
Most decisions Josh Fraser makes these days are with an eye on the future.
Even the retired AFL ruckman’s choice to return last December to his junior club Mansfield over other suitors was more about the future than the past.
Fraser, 31, is a budding coach with a passion for development.
He downplayed his potential playing impact on arrival at the Eagles’ nest — saying he was more interested in helping young players — but has predictably been a dominant on-field force.
Fraser’s 64 goals, at an average of four per game, are fourth-best in the Goulburn Valley Football League.
He had never previously played for Mansfield at senior level.
The Melbourne-based player has found his playing assistant coach role at the Eagles more difficult than he first imagined.
‘‘I’ve done bits and pieces, but, to be honest, I’ve found it a bit challenging living in Melbourne and playing that assistant-type role,’’ Fraser said.
‘‘I’ve got a better handle on the group as the year’s gone on and the challenge of knowing what people are capable of.
‘‘But, by and large, Fraser (Stevenson), the coach, has the final say with everything and it’s been good for me to sit back and work with someone else and the difference of opinion.’’
Fraser had no shortage of coaching mentors during his 13-year AFL career, but he played under just two senior coaches.
Multiple premiership coach Mick Malthouse was in charge for all 11 seasons and 200 games he had at Collingwood, while Guy McKenna had the reins for his final 18 matches and two years at the Gold Coast.
Fraser said working alongside Stevenson had also added to his repertoire.
‘‘What it’s done has really reaffirmed some of the beliefs I had,’’ he said.
‘‘It can be a frustrating level, too, because you get these guys for only two nights a week.
‘‘It’s hard to squeeze a ton of improvement out of them unless you can really put a program in place over summer and have some real direction with what you’re doing.’’
Fraser has come a long way — as a footballer and person — since the Magpies selected him with the No. 1 pick in the 1999 AFL National Draft.
He readily admits, like most young men entering the AFL system, he was naive about what was to come.
Being the top pick and playing for the sport’s most powerful and polarising club made Fraser a favourite whipping boy.
‘‘I’ve been pretty fortunate to play 13 years at the elite level and you understand there will be some ups and downs along the way,’’ he said.
‘‘Most players would give the same answer. It’s not an easy game or industry and it can become quite hard work.
‘‘People seem to think it’s a fairly glamorous life and you get paid well, but it can be over in the blink of an eye.
‘‘I’m grateful for the time I had, but it’s a small part of your life in many ways.’’
The wide-eyed, lanky, country boy with boundless potential has become a battle-hardened, largely bullet-proof, wise and worldly veteran.
That much was evidenced in how Fraser handled former Magpies teammate Darren Jolly’s public criticism of him in his weekly The Age column this year.
Jolly accused Fraser, a fellow ruckman, of ignoring him for much of the 2010 season after he arrived from Sydney and said their relationship was acrimonious.
The column attracted widespread interest, but Fraser, who responded at the time on Twitter, largely played a straight bat to Jolly’s comments.
‘‘It would have been quite easy for me to fire back a few things myself, but, at the end of the day, there are some guys there who I respect enormously,’’ he said this week.
‘‘They don’t need the distraction of a former player duking it out publicly with a current player. I just left it alone.
‘‘I don’t know what his motives were. Ultimately, it reflected more poorly on him than it did on me. It really wasn’t an issue for me.
‘‘I laugh about it
Fraser airs his views on the game as part of ABC radio’s football coverage and is active on Twitter.
But there is more to him than just football.
Fraser married his sweetheart Kylie five years ago and they have two children together — Ted, who turns 4 in October, and Emmy, born just three Fridays ago.
Ted was born in Fraser’s final season at Collingwood.
Fraser has cherished the chance to spend more time with his young family and even being able to sneak up to Mansfield to see his father since his AFL career ended.
‘‘I’ve pretty much looked after Teddy for much of the time (in the last fortnight) to give Kylie the chance to take care of Emmy, being a bit younger, with feeding and those sorts of things,’’ Fraser said.
‘‘But I’m not sure which is easier. Ted’s at that age he’s great, but can be pretty hard work at times and, obviously, Emmy requires a fair bit of attention herself.
‘‘Footy is a great game, but, from time to time, we get caught up in everything and (family) gives you that chance to have an outlet and changes your focus once you walk through the doors at home.’’
Football still commands his attention during the week, in between taking Ted to and from kinder and filling other daily daddy duties.
Fraser devotes time to learning more about coaching, as well as networking with the right people.
He isn’t one who believes he should be gifted a position at the top level just because he had a successful playing career.
‘‘The challenge of developing players and implementing new game plans and these sorts of things is something I’m quite passionate about,’’ Fraser said.
‘‘If I can get an opportunity in a development capacity at an AFL club it would be ideal, but it’s not the be-all and end-all.
‘‘Sometimes you need to find a good entry level for coaching and under-18s provides that, VFL can provide that and good local competitions can provide that.’’
Fraser said he was still a long way from deciding what he was doing next year, despite revealing multiple clubs had approached him about his services.
He is in no rush, either, but you know when he does, it will have been made with all his experience and future best interests in mind.
Tatura’s Jennifer Hippisley will head up a state education advisory group after being elected as the chair of the Victorian Local Learning and Education Network Broker Network.
After a tennis career spanning 62 years, of which the last 35 years have been as a coach, Yarrawonga's Jon Coleman is set to retire at the end of 2013.
The recent Kyabram Master Pairs, played over six days with crack sides from near and far, attracted some talented bowlers eager to win the prestige event.
A frequent visitor to northern Victoria, Care Connect's Graham Custance recently won a national award for his work supporting indigenous elders to achieve better health and wellbeing.
Three Goornong Fire Brigade firefighters recently completed a CFA course on safety surrounding urban firefighting and using breathing apparatuses.
Kyabram Lawn Tennis Club’s annual junior singles tournament again attracted good numbers from across the district.
But have opponents given up the fight?
Tocumwal Pre-School students are proudly flying their KITE at the Tocumwal Lions Community Hostel.
Tooborac Fire Brigade visited Tooborac Primary School last Tuesday to help the school complete its bushfire emergency management plan.
Residents urged to renew fruit fly baits to support local orchards.
A Korean company has a proposal with the NSW Government to built a $90 million ethanol plant in Deniliquin.
SPC Ardmona, is sending eight containers loaded with $250,000 of fruit and vegetables to cyclone ravaged Philippines.
The hunt is on for a buyer for Benalla and Mansfield Toyota after the business went into receivership last fortnight.
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.