After an off-season of major change, East Keilor has a made an impressive start to the season. We speak to new coach Rocky Ianello about the transition.
It was an off-season of major change at East Keilor; but you wouldn’t know from the Cougars start to the season.
The Essendon District league club is 3-0 heading into its Round 4 Premier Division clash against Essendon Doutta Stars and appear steady under new coach Rocky Iannello.
Ianello took over the top job from Tim Bongetti in the off-season before overseeing a major reshaping of the club’s playing list.
“It’s nice to have made a good start but there are still a lot of areas we’re looking to improve in,” he said.
“We brought in a few guys and then some have left as well. Sometimes when you come in as a new coach, it can go the wrong way but this group has been sensational.
“The whole process has actually been quite a smooth transition.”
Among the new faces to impress early in the season is George Nabbout who made the step up to the competition’s top tier after spending last season with Westmeadows.
He has been named in the best in the Cougars first three games and produced his best showing in front of goal last weekend with five majors.
“He’s not a boisterous type of person, he’s pretty quiet and just loves his footy,” Ianello said.
“He’s come on board and fitted in really well. He trains very well and has been impressive in games.
“Making the step up is never easy but he’s shown a bit of talent and I’m sure there’s still room for improvement in his performances.”
Other recruits to make impressive starts to the season include big man Matthew Dennis and Jacob Brown.
Dion Hill has been a strong performer in front of goal with seven majors while the familiar names of Chris Stewart, Nick Nesci and Rhys Smith continue to get the job done for the Cougars.
Veteran presence Heath Shaw also continues to play a key role, although he’ll miss this weekend’s clash with the Stars.
“He’s been fantastic,” Ianello said of Shaw.
“He’s transitioned into the life of a local footballer beautifully. He is really connected with the group and everyone wants to learn off him.”
Importantly, the Cougars were able to get an under-18s team up and running for the 2023 season.
And Ianello said he will have a big say in the club’s future.
“When I was appointed, one of the first things I wanted to do was have that age group,” he said.
“When you look at the big clubs in the competition, they have talented under-18s they’re able to bring into the senior team without any issues.
“We’re building towards that. It’s all about sustainability. But we know it’s going to take time.”
The Cougars will face Doutta Stars from 2.15pm on Saturday at Nipper Jordan Oval.
Originally published as East Keilor out to maintain perfect start to the season
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