Heidelberg senior men’s star Lachlan Wilson is pushing to reach greater heights in 2023 as his side prepare to defend their Melbourne Greyhounds Division 1 men’s premiership.
Wilson became a two-time premiership player with the Tigers last year, as his side won their last 16 games to claim a 21st NFNL flag.
The 23-year-old produced a stellar 2022 campaign to add to what’s been an outstanding senior career thus far.
On top of another premiership medallion, he made a third consecutive Division 1 men’s Team of the Year appearance and also finished just one vote shy of a second successive Frank Rosbrook Medal.
Some may think he’s done all there is to do in senior football, but the star midfielder is determined to reach greater heights in 2023 and beyond, saying he’s only just getting started.
“I think I’m very far from my peak to be honest. I think I’ve still got a lot more to go and I’m still finding my feet in the middle,” he said.
“I’ve won some of the awards, but personally as a footballer I think I can still grow more.
“Hopefully more flags are on the way for us, that’s why I play footy to win flags, play good footy and be involved with the club.”
Wilson will be under the guidance of a new mentor in 2023 after the club announced the appointment of 2022 assistant Vince Dattoli as senior coach in October, replacing Danny Nolan who stood down following the club’s premiership triumph.
Dattoli joined Warringal Park as the club’s under-19’s coach in 2017, following senior coaching stints at Lower Plenty as well as West Preston-Lakeside, where he coached the Roosters to the 2010 Division 1 men’s flag.
Wilson lauded Dattoli’s appointment, adding that his relationship with him, which spans back to junior football, will help take his game to the next level.
“A lot of the people are happy that Vin is coach this year and he’s putting us in a good position for another flag,” he said.
“He may be our new coach but has been around for a while and he knows his footy very well. All the faith is in him, and I know I’ll learn a lot from him.”
The reigning premiers were quick to re-sign most of their premiership squad throughout the off-season, however they will be without star forward Josh Minogue who will return to North Albury.
Minogue made 56 appearances and kicked 113 goals across four seasons with the Tigers, kicking a career high 54 majors in Heidelberg’s premiership run last year, culminating with a Team of the Year selection.
But Wilson has tipped a readymade replacement for Minogue, 2022 Heidelberg reserves leading goalkicker Charlie Wilson.
The 22-year-old forward kicked 39 goals in just 10 reserves games last year and also kicked 18 majors in only six senior games for the Tigers.
“Charlie’s shown a lot over the last year with his marking ability and how he can kick goals. If he just keeps getting on the training track and putting in 100% effort in, I could see him being a marking forward and consolidating a spot in the senior side,” Lachlan Wilson said.
Heidelberg will also be bolstered by many inclusions to their squad, headlined by the return of Tom Sullivan after spending two seasons with Goulburn Valley Football League side Tatura.
Wilson is excited to reunite with his 2016 premiership teammate.
“I believe (Sullivan) can stand tall down back or up forward, he is a marking player. To get someone like him back in the side after losing Minogue is very good news for us,” he said.
Amongst the other confirmed signings include Eltham’s Riley Byrne, Mitchell Jorgensen from Dimboola (Wimmera Football Netball League) plus Coburg VFL-listed player Max Thompson from Old Carey.
The Tigers will also have premiership player Luke Bunker on a full-time basis after making eight VFL appearances for Coburg in 2022.
Wilson praised each recruit and the influence they’re already having on the club.
“All the new signings have been welcomed with open arms. They’ve all been good on the training track, all turning up on time, and putting 100% effort in, which is what we want at Heidelberg,” he said.
Heidelberg have not tasted defeat since April and will go into this year’s campaign as a premiership fancy once again.
Wilson was under no illusions that his side will be heavily hunted throughout the season but believes that staying focused on the task at hand will go a long way to securing back-to-back flags.
“A lot of teams know what we play like now, so it’s just about us keeping composed and keeping our heads in the game, not trying to get too ahead of ourselves, he said.
“If we can do all that, I believe we can win it again.”
Heidelberg begin their premiership defence with a huge clash against rivals North Heidelberg at Warringal Park