Ianelli steps up at West

Lui Zacher
August 19, 2022 / 9:45 pm

GEELONG West will return to a co-coaching structure in 2023, with Matt Ianelii to partner Mitch Wight in the top job at Bakers Oval.

A Blue West junior, Ianelli returned to the now-Giants ahead of this year as an assistant coach after an impressive GFL career at Bell Park.

He said the club floated the idea of stepping up to lessen the load on Wight, who previously shared the reins with Andrew Clark, last month.

“Wighty’s personal life is about to change; he’s about to have a kid, and his work’s ramping up,” Ianelli said.

“I’ve really enjoyed this year as an assistant coach.

“The group’s building to something, and it’s really exciting to play finals this year and hopefully try and win it (premiership).

“If not, next year will be a year for us as well.

“We’ve got unfinished business this year, but it’s exciting times for the club.”

West’s finals campaign starts with an elimination final against Bell Post Hill in the first post-season meeting between the two clubs since the return to a single division in 1996.

The club hasn’t won a flag since 1987, with Ianelli’s dad Frank a member of the Cheetahs’ most recent success.

However, the younger Ianelli isn’t getting too caught up in the chance to emulate his father.

“I haven’t thought about that too much,” he said. “I’m just looking forward to running out in a final.

“Elimination finals are hard to win – any final’s hard to win.

“It’s just exciting to give yourself a chance to win a flag.

“I’m excited for the group, not necessarily myself, because it’s nice to play in finals as a team.”

The Giants and Panthers met in the season’s final round, with Bell Post Hill coming out on top by 16 points.

“You get an idea of how they play, but I’m sure they’ve got some tricks up their sleeve, as do we,” Ianelli said.

“It’s nice to see them two weeks in a row because the boys won’t get shocked about their ball movement and the way they play.

“And it’s nice to plan for the same side two weeks in a row.

West will be strengthened by the return of star forward Blake Dye, ruck Jye Bohm and veteran defender Justin Carey.