CARLTON development coach Daniel O’Keefe will take the reins of the Club’s standalone side in the newly formed 2021 VFL and East Coast Second-Tier Competition.

Already boasting experience as a premiership coach with the Geelong Falcons in the NAB League, O’Keefe is the perfect fit for the role, which has a clear focus on developing the Blues’ emerging players to ensure they reach their full potential at AFL level.

He also coached the Club’s reserves side during the scratch matches held throughout this year.

O’Keefe, who will also remain in his existing position as development coach, said the reserves program presented a fantastic chance for players to fast-track their push for senior selection.

“Having coached our reserves side this year during the scratch matches, I can see how hungry our emerging talent is for their opportunity,” O’Keefe said.

“What this second-tier competition gives them is the chance to push their case for selection directly within the Carlton system, which will only enhance their development.

“The pathway for our players is now really clear if they want to play seniors. Train hard, play well at reserve level and use your consistent performances to break into the AFL side.”

The Blues’ reserves side will form a key component of the Carlton development pathway that will continue to be overseen by the Club’s Head of Development Luke Power.

Players not selected in the AFL side each week will play in the VFL and East Coast Second-Tier competition, that will be comprised of 22 clubs across Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales. 

The Blues will also have additional players on reserves contracts, with announcements on those players to be made in the coming weeks.

Carlton Head of Football Brad Lloyd said the Club was excited to maximise the benefit of a standalone reserves side with O’Keefe the ideal person to fill the role as coach.

“Since arriving at the Club 12 months ago, Dan has shown his exceptional quality as a development coach and this role will help him utilise his skillset to help take our development program to the next level,” Lloyd said.

“During our time away in the hubs this year, Dan went above and beyond to build really strong relationships with our emerging players. This has ensured our emerging group will take great momentum into the start of pre-season and into 2021.

“As a club we have been working incredibly hard to make sure our reserves side fit seamlessly into our development program. We are confident the structure we have now put in place makes the pathway to the AFL really clear for our emerging players and gives them all the motivation they need to push hard for senior selection.”