ASSISTANT coach Jade Rawlings has made the decision to take up an opportunity with North Melbourne in 2020, departing the club after an eight-year tenure in the red and blue.

Rawlings, who coached the Casey Demons to a grand final last season, most recently stepped back into the AFL coaching system during Melbourne’s mid-season restructure of the football department, where he became the forward line coach for the remainder of 2019.  

The hugely popular figure will now be taking on a new role as a senior assistant coach with the Kangaroos.

General Manager of Football and Operations Josh Mahoney says the club fully supports Rawlings’ decision to take on a new challenge after initially joining the Demons in 2011 as the backline coach.

“While it’s always disappointing to lose a quality person within our football program, the club understands Jade’s decision to look for other opportunities,” Mahoney told Melbourne Media.

“Jade has performed a number of roles under a number of senior coaches and he is ready for an expanded role, and we are very happy to support him.

“There’s no question Jade has made a fantastic contribution to the club over his eight years here and we wish him and his family all the best in the future.”

Rawlings, who played 148 AFL games across three clubs (Hawthorn, Western Bulldogs and North Melbourne), has previously spent time coaching at both Richmond and Brisbane.

The 41-year-old will now take the next step in his coaching journey, but showed his gratitude to the Dees after announcing his decision on Thursday afternoon.

“I just want to thank the club for their support throughout my time here,” Rawlings told Melbourne Media.

“I’ve had eight years here, which is the biggest stretch of my coaching career at one club. They’ve given me numerous opportunities and I’ve always felt supported and felt valued as a member of the club.

“I can’t thank the club itself, but in particular Simon Goodwin and Josh Mahoney, enough for the way they’ve supported me and given me opportunities throughout that period of time.

“I want to thank the players for the experience they’ve given me. I’ve developed a lot of great relationships and genuine friendships throughout my time at the club, and I also include staff with that as well. 

“I’ve had a great experience with the supporters – they’ve always been supportive of me and my involvement at the club and I just want to thank them for how they’ve treated me over my time at the club as well.

“I’m really appreciative of how the club has supported me and allowed me to take this new opportunity that’s been afforded to me at North Melbourne.”