Pies flying high despite Jennings departure


AFTER overcoming yet another off-season setback, things are suddenly looking up for GDFA strugglers West Griffith SC.

The Magpies have recovered from the loss of last year's coach Peter Jennings to Yoogali FC by appointing Frank Portolesi and Jim Rimmer as co-coaches for the 2014 season.

And in a move that will boost their hopes of competing with the competition's powerhouse clubs, Wests have also signed three new English imports who arrived in Griffith last week.

The trio will join a squad packed to the brim with some of the city's best young talent, leading president Steve Perlowski declare the club is far better positioned for success now than it was 12 months ago.

"I think one year on we're starting to settle," he told The Area News.

"It was a pity that Peter decided to move on but obviously there were a lot of undercurrents there. 

"Maybe it was a blessing in disguise for us. We'll see later in the season how Yoogali feel. 

"Frank's put a real heap of effort in with that group and we need to have someone that's committed, and he certainly fits that bill.

"It was a big one last year, trying to just regather after what happened with the guys who left us, but I think now we've really got the ball rolling."

Portolesi coached West Griffith's under 18s side last year to a grand final win over Hanwood FC and also guided the team through to the semi-finals of the Football NSW Champion of Champions tournament.

Under his watch, the Magpies lost just three games in the GDFA as a new generation of gifted youngsters emerged.

He said he was looking forward to overseeing their development alongside Rimmer, one of the region's best and most experienced youth coaches.

"In the long run they'll end up being a good-quality first-grade side," Portolesi said.

"They're all pretty keen to keep playing and there's a few of them that are turning 19, so as a group they'll step up.

"It'll work out better with two of us - we've got quite a big group.

"I'm there to give the squad a bit of continuity but the good thing is Jim has a lot of experience as well, coaching at all levels.

"Having a couple of coaches doing it together and a few guys in the background will actually make it a lot more professional going forward and gives us a lot of stability."

But the double-edged sword of youth development will mean Wests will be without arguably their three best juniors this year.

Joint best-and-fairest winners from last year's under 18s squad, Luke Tsantefskis and Dylan Perlowski, have moved away to join the International Football School on the Central Coast along with another Wests player, Joey Arena.

Steve Perlowski said it was bittersweet to see them leave the club, but hoped the three new English signings - and the return of Rhys Jones from Yenda - will help fill the void.

"We've got these extra guys to come in and just help support our young fellas," he said.

"We don't want to replace the whole team with internationals; we want to use the local talent as much as we can and we've got a good crop of young players.

"We seem to be getting along okay."

Perlowski also confirmed West Griffith will enter the Real Juice Cup next weekend while the club's GDFA season begins at home to new side Eastern Wanderers.

CHAMPIONS: The West Griffith under 18s side celebrating their grand final win last year.

CHAMPIONS: The West Griffith under 18s side celebrating their grand final win last year.


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