By Beth Newman
UQ has appointed former Port Adelaide player, Darren Pfeiffer, as their QAFL player-coach for 2015.
The 2013 Norwood SANFL premiership player has signed a one-year deal with the Red Lions, beating out seven other short-listed candidates for the senior job.
Pfeiffer comes to the Red Lions after a season at Redland in the NEAFL, the latest in a decorated playing career, playing 23 AFL games at Carlton and Port Adelaide, finishing his South Australian stint with that SANFL premiership.
The 27 year-old is excited to embark on a new challenge and said he would relish the opportunity to teach a new group of players.
“What I’m looking at doing is really trying to teach the guys and the players that are there already,” he said.
“I really want to create a good atmosphere at the club and hopefully get the whole university involved, that’s what I’d like to see.”
And Pfeiffer is not worried about setting his sights high for 2015, after a two-win QAFL season for the Red Lions in 2014.
“Something I’m looking at straight away is making finals,” he said.
“I’ve no issues with saying that right now.
“I’m looking at bringing in some black and white rules and making it easy for players to understand what’s required of them.”
Pfeiffer said he would draw on his experience playing under coaches such as Ken Hinkley and Nathan Bassett when he steps into the role.
“I’ve lucky enough to learn from some really good coaches and from my own experiences.”
Pfeiffer’s passion for the community aspect of the Red Lions, with six senior teams across men’s and women’s football, made him a standout for the job and it’s connecting with those across the board that the former Bomber is most excited about.
“I played with Redland last year and we didn’t have a reserves side, which always makes things a little bit difficult,” he said.
“I like the idea of being able to go back to the reserves and the U18s and try and create the similar game style from the bottom up and I’m hoping to build that pressure from the bottom levels.
“I’m pretty keen to have a bit of work at the levels underneath and I’m keen to sit down with them and make sure they see eye to eye with the vision that I’ve got.
That vision centres around rebounding quickly, with a focus on taking on the opposition, Pfeiffer said.
“I’m looking at a team that will be able to force turnovers high up the ground ad be really attacking.
“I think that’ll be the main thing and that we rebound pretty hard and play with a lot of confidence.”
Pfeiffer will be bringing his Redland teammate, Phil Lovett, to Oval 7 as a backline coach and player, unlikely to be the last new recruit at UQ over the off-season.
The new Red Lions coach said the Bombers had been nothing but supportive of his decision to move on.
UQ assistant coach, Tim Mackinley lead the coaching selection process and said Pfeiffer was the perfect choice for the head gig.
The decision was sealed after a visit to the side’s off-season fitness venue, Freers, a program involving all levels of the club.
It was his enthusiasm to embrace that side of the Red Lions that Mackinley said was the clincher.
“It’s really refreshing for us, his attitude towards grassroots and he wants to be part of it,” he said.
“He genuinely has the desire to want to give back to a club and see the people involved through all the grades and people who come and watch, thrive on the back of wins and thrive on the back of the club moving forward.”
With Pfeiffer still an inexperienced coach, Mackinley said the club’s responsibility now was to provide him with the support he needed to develop.