Great Western has made big recruitment moves ahead of the 2019 season to potentially become “one of the most exciting teams to watch in country Victoria”.
Steven Lorenzo returns to the Lions for his second year along with four other players from the Tiwi Islands.
Kim Kantilla, Ross Tungatalum, Francis Kinthari and Bradley Palipuaminni together with Lorenzo make up the group of the latest recruits.
Lions football operations manager Matt Delzotto said Lorenzo’s positive experience last season played a big part in the recruitment coup for 2019.
Read more: Lorenzo settles well at the Lions
“The way he was able to embrace the football club and the local community was a contributing factor into recruiting directions moving forward,” he said.
Delzotto said when recruiting Lorenzo the idea wasn’t to seek other interested players.
“He (Lorenzo) was a player who loved football and had a connection at our club through Nigel Sibson – who has spent time playing football in the Northern Territory,” he said.
“We are fortunate to have someone like Sibson at the footy club who has a lot of connections not only in the Tiwi Islands but across the state.
“As it worked out we were lucky enough to secure the services of four more players for the upcoming season.”
Kantilla comes from the Waratah Warriors in the Northern Territory Football League.
During the 2018 season, Kantilla spent some time playing with Lauderdale in the Tasmanian State League where he made a great impression with his skills and leg speed.
Former St Kilda rookie list player Ross Tungatalum is also ready to join the Lions in the 2019 journey.
Also known as the ‘The Human Highlight Reel’ Tungatalum is infamous for his blistering pace and skill set while playing with the Tiwi Bombers, St Mary’s and the Northern Territory Thunder.
Francis 'The Flash' Kinthari is known for his elite leg speed and ball use state level with both Frankston in the VFL and the NT Thunder.
‘The Flash’ will be the first of the five footballers to arrive and will spend the last part of pre-season training with the group.
Bradley Palipuaminni caps off the group of five Northern Territory players to join the Lions.
Nicknamed ‘Savage’, Palipuaminni was the first player to play 150 Northern Territory Football League games with the Tiwi bombers and the first indigenous player to play 50 games for the NT Thunder.
Palipuaminni is also a leader both on and off the field, serving as a community leader in the Tiwi Islands.
Delzotto said it was a really exciting time to be involved with the club and within the Great Western community.
“The majority of the players will be staying the whole season – Ross Tungatalum will be back and forth for a break but we will manage that as a club,” he said.
“The players will be staying with club members and we will be working with the players both on and off the field.”
All five players will travel the thousands of kilometres from their hometowns, something Delzotto said is a world away from their everyday lives.
“This is a massive commitment for the players,” he said.
“They will be coming from an environment where they know everyone around them to exposure to new people and a new town.
“The weather will take some getting used to as well.”
Delzotto said the recruitment of the five players will enhance both returning and new players currently committed to playing at the Lions.
“For a while now, come the end of seasons, we have been battling with numbers due to injury,” he said.
“The new recruits will stop players doubling up games on Saturdays and develop younger players within the club’s vision.
“We can make sure the juniors are getting the right pathway into senior football without getting thrown in the deep end.”
Delzotto said the strategies in place around the recruiting and the partnership formed with Northern Territory footballers is something the club hopes is around for a long time to come.
“The idea is to grow the relationship further and investigate further options,” he said.
“The opportunity which is presented can also go both ways.
“Through our connections, we hope in years to come to have talented footballers join players over the summer in the Northern Territory.
“The partnership is all about player development and players doing what they love the most – stepping onto the field and playing football.”
Delzotto said as the season approaches pre-season will start to ramp up.
“We still have a few more recruits in our sights – we possibly have two or three which could join us,” he said.
“Dare I say it, we have the potential to be one of the most exciting teams to watch in country Victoria going into the 2019 season.”
While you’re with us, you can now receive updates straight to your inbox each Friday morning from the Stawell Times-News. To make sure you’re up-to-date with all the news from across the Northern Grampians shire, sign up here.