Throughout a distinguished coaching career spanning three decades, Denis has forged a reputation as a meticulous planner, an inspirational leader of men and for the relentless pursuit of excellence. Beyond dispute is that indelible mark Denis has left on the game of Australian football. Denis ranks 16th on the list of most senior VFL/AFL games coached and as a Premiership coach at Under-19, Reserve and Senior AFL level, he is without peer.
Seasons: Following a successful playing career which spanned 146 games over 10 seasons at the highest level (120 games with North Melbourne and 26 with South Melbourne), Denis embarked on what was to prove one of the most enduring and successful coaching careers.
Coach: Appointed senior coach of North Melbourne in 1993, Denis transformed a club that had seemingly been demoralized by a record defeat in the pre-season competition just days earlier. He introduced a new game plan, taught players to believe in themselves, and was instrumental in helping the club secure NZI Insurance as a major sponsor. By the season’s end, North Melbourne had returned to the September action for the first time in six seasons, which Denis was duly named ‘AFL Coach of the Year’ in his inaugural season.
Finasls: What followed were seven consecutive Preliminary Finals, three Grand Final appearances and the ultimate success; Premierships in 1996 and 1999. As a team, North Melbourne, or the Kangaroos as they came to be known, earned the moniker of ‘Team of the Nineties’, whilst individually Denis was referred to as ‘the man with the finals touch’. In 2001 Denis was selected ahead of the legendary Ron Barassi as the club’s Coach of the Century.
Carlton: In 2003, Denis became the coach of the Carlton Football Club and made an immediate impact on the club by rebuilding the side. Denis faced a myriad of changes during his five-year tenure as Carlton coach, including; punitive draft sanctions, financial uncertainty and frequent political instability.
Speaker: As one who is able to draw on the full gamut of experience from the pressure-cooker environment of the AFL, Denis speaks with authority on the key ingredients for attaining success, leadership, team building, developing self-belief and confidence, overcoming adversity and goal setting. Likewise, his coaching philosophies - based upon communication, teaching, people management and leadership, will prove invaluable to aspiring coaches, businesses and community leaders alike.