West Preston-Lakeside men’s football coach Rob Maiorana is excited to again lead the club in 2022 as it prepares to defend its place at the top of Meadows Greyhounds Division 1.
Maiorana will continue his extraordinarily successful tenure at J.E. Moore Park, after signing on for his sixth year at the helm.
Having steered the Roosters to back-to-back premierships in 2018 and 2019, Maiorana this year had his side on track to secure an historic three-peat – sitting two wins and percentage clear atop the ladder before the season was cut short by Melbourne’s extended lockdown.
The three-time coach of the Meadows Greyhounds Division 1 Team of the Year said he stayed loyal to the club to acknowledge the sacrifices the playing group had made during trying times throughout the Covid pandemic.
“It’s a great club with great people and we’ve enjoyed some success along the way. It was good to extend that arrangement for another year,” Maiorana told NFNL.org.au.
“I also felt obligated and committed to this group that are driven and have been loyal and have sacrificed a lot to stay together.
“Of the five years I’ve been there, we’ve only been able to complete three seasons, which has been a challenging time, but we’re looking forward to the season ahead.”
Despite most of the 2021 playing list being retained, West Preston-Lakeside will move forward without three-time Team of the Year defender Jackson Clarke and representative forward Liam McVeigh, who have both signed with Wangaratta.
Maiorana was confident the club could replace the departing duo, pointing out that the Roosters performed exceptionally in 2021 despite the prolonged absence of skipper Nathan Valladares, Aidan Tilley, Josh Iacobaccio, Carl Adams and Mitch Crapper.
“I’m more focused on the 95 percent of the playing group we have re-signed,” Maiorana said.
“It’s probably the most stable that we’ve been in the last five years I’ve been there. To actually re-sign that many players in the current environment is a great achievement.
“We’ve lost 12-16 players over the last two or three years for various reasons, so we continue to bring in new players, train them up and they play their role within the team.
“Yes, we’ve got some talented people involved as well, but the other really important ingredient was we’ve got a big chunk of our junior players that we’ve developed and nurtured.
“We’ve seen growth out of them. That’s what’s made me most proud. In the premiership years we had 15 or 16 players that came from the junior program at West Preston-Lakeside.”
Maiorana’s coaching group has been bolstered by former Macleod coach Christian Stagliano signing on as an assistant.
Stagliano has spent the past three years at De Winton Park, having previously held development roles at AFL clubs Collingwood and Gold Coast Suns.
“He’s going to be a good acquisition for the club,” Maiorana said.
“He’s got good experience in football, and we think he’ll add to the program.”
Despite the disappointment of having their premiership quest cut short in 2021, Maiorana believes his side is well placed to challenge again next year.
“We were certainly well positioned (this year). We were fit, healthy and looking forward to playing finals and defending our title again,” he said.
“Being awarded the minor premiers is some consolation, but there is not much we can do about it, we’ve got to look forward.
“It’s very difficult in this day and age with new equalisation measures like salary caps and points cap to have sustained success. That’s why I’m most proud of what this club and this group have been able to achieve to this point.
“I think there’s still some more that we can scratch out.
“It’s going to be hotly contested in 2022 again. Other clubs that have been very aggressive. They’re using their limited salary caps wisely it looks like, bringing in some experienced AFL types. It’s going to enhance the competition.”