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Coaching greats inspire retiring Maric's next move

Ivan breaks the news Ivan Maric announces his retirement to the playing group.
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 06: Debutant, Ivan Soldo (left) is presented with his jumper by cousin Ivan Maric of the Tigers during the 2017 AFL round 07 match between the Western Bulldogs and the Richmond Tigers at Etihad Stadium on May 06, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Michael Willson/AFL Media)
Ivan Maric is ready to move into coaching once he retires at the end of the year

RETIRING Richmond ruckman Ivan Maric is ready to make the transition to full-time coaching after dipping his toes in the water with the Tigers' young ruck division in 2017.

Maric, who recently announced he would retire at the end of this season, took on the vacant ruck coach role at Punt Road Oval after midfield stoppages coach Brendon Lade crossed to Port Adelaide at the end of 2016.  

The 31-year-old has since completed the Next Coach Program, run by coaching veteran David Wheadon, which cemented his ambitions as a 13-season career draws to a close.

"For me it confirmed a lot of things. It confirmed my own beliefs where there was a bit of uncertainty, and then [it helped me] to just get organised with coaching and how I'm going to do certain aspects of it," Maric told AFL.com.au. 

"I'm really clear now … I had a lot of it in my own mind already, but it confirmed things.

"You're looking at other great coaches and what they did, and it's like 'that's how I think, that's how I feel and that's what I believe in'.

"That's been really good. Now it's all about getting a job and putting it into practice." 

When announcing his retirement to teammates, Maric quoted Gregg Popovich, coach of the NBA's San Antonio Spurs, who said he felt privileged that his players allowed him to coach them the way he wanted to coach them.

Maric said the coaching great, who has won five NBA championships with the Spurs, was someone he had studied in recent seasons. 

"I've watched him closely over the last three or four years and he is someone I've really admired with the way he's been coaching and the way he manages his players," Maric said.  

Others Maric has studied in world sport are NBA coaching great Phil Jackson, former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and influential soccer mastermind Johan Cruyff.

Then there are Australian football Hall of Fame coaches Tom Hafey and Allan Jeans, who Maric admitted he did not know enough about before starting the Next Coach Program.

A common thread among the coaches he admired was the fact they cared about their players, were great teachers, and the player-coach relationship was also a friendship. 

They are traits Maric has tried to implement in his work with Richmond's ruck group, which includes young trio Toby Nankervis (22), Maric's cousin Ivan Soldo (21), rookie Mabior Chol (20), and injured big man Shaun Hampson (29). 

The former Adelaide ruckman's role has included designing all training sessions for the ruckmen and then reviewing training and match vision with his teammates.

Given he was still on the list and preparing himself to play every week, Maric said it was important not to have a seat at match committee to avoid any conflicts of interest.  

Through his role as a playing ruck coach and his involvement in the Next Coach Program, Maric said his own style was starting to emerge. 

It involved arming his players with the knowledge and tools to coach themselves, both on the track and during games.  

"Matthew Clarke was my ruck coach at Adelaide and I feel like he got me to that level," Maric said. 

"But the other thing I've learned from the program is that coaching isn't something you just wake up and you're good at. 

"It's something that needs to be practiced every day and you constantly get better at it. 

"So having the opportunity to practice it every day has been really good for me and my next phase in life."