Penola has unveiled its leaders for the 2022 Kowree Naracoorte Tatiara football and netball seasons.
With the club still on a high from its maiden A Grade netball premiership, Kaitlin Egan will remain in charge on the netball court, while a new face will move the magnets for the senior football side.
Long time player Brad Maney will take over from club legend Tony Porter and lead the Eagles into battle as playing coach in 2022.
Maney said he was touched to be appointed head coach of a club with 156 years of history.
“I am certainly very honoured to coach a club steeped in history,” he said.
“There have been a lot of fantastic coaches like John Copping and Daniel Clark, so to be a part of the club’s history is pretty overwhelming to be honest.”
It will be the first time Maney has coached a senior side, but the defender is no stranger to the art.
He has coached Penola’s Senior Colts side in the past and has guided the Tenison Woods College team for the last four years as well.
But coaching the A Grade team in the competitive KNTFL will be a completely different ball game and Maney feels he has the tools for the challenge.
“I certainly feel I am ready,” he said.
“I have been working towards this for three to four years now and feel like it is a bit of a natural progression being at the latter stage of my playing career.
“I just cannot wait to sink my teeth into it.”
Maney confirmed he will remain a key defender in the Eagles line-up and believes being a full back puts him in the “ideal” playing position as a coach to watch the action unfold in front of him.
The 2020 season was a significant moment in the new coach’s development off the field when he acted as the assistant to Porter.
Maney’s predecessor is as experienced as they come having led Penola to the 2013 premiership and the 2022 leader soaked up as much as he could.
“Tony is a fantastic person first and foremost and one of things I got from him was how to manage all the amazing and different scenarios that are thrown your way,” Maney said.
“He is a very personable coach and treats every single person differently, so everyone respects him in the highest order.”
Maney takes over the top job just as the Eagles have struggled to take off.
After taking a break from football in the COVID-19 riddled 2020 season, Penola battled to make an impact on the scoreboard throughout the 2021 KNTFL season.
Only three wins against Bordertown, Lucindale and Kybybolite were registered from the 14 games which led to a ladder position of ninth, equal with the wooden spoon holders on premiership points.
However, Maney believes the team can still take plenty of positives from the way it played.
The Eagles improved as the season progressed and fought valiantly against finalists Keith, Naracoorte and Kingston.
Maney was one of five players to take to the field in all 14 games and said injuries and a lack of game time were the biggest factors holding Penola back.
“Our list on paper was quite strong, but we struggled a lot with injuries,” he said.
“At different stages throughout the season we would have seven to 10 players of our first 18 missing.
“So, the results on paper were not quite as bad as what it seemed at the time, but we had a lot of growth through our young players such as Sam Gartner, Sam Hayes and Jacob Robbie.
“We were able to blood some youngsters like Brock Summerhayes and Aaron Zurk who are going to be part of the next premiership side.
“It was something we were not used to being a proud club that likes to play finals every year, but we caught up on the time we lost in 2020.”
Although it is still early days, Maney already has a few plans on how to implement his coaching style with an eye towards a healthy playing group on and off the oval.
“I will have a really strong wellbeing focus on my coaching,” he said.
“I will also bring a more tactical game plan to the side and experiment with things like defence and spreading from a stoppage.
“I felt that at times we were caught out on the spread too often which can happen in an open league like the KNT.”
The recruitment drive is already in full swing and Maney has took on the challenge with preseason set to kick off in January.
“Recruiting is something I am enjoying – speaking to a lot of different people,” he said.
“It has been a bit tough with the uncertainty with the leagues in the upcoming years, but it has been an opportunity to gain different perspectives on the game.
“We are looking to have a couple of runs in December before kicking off around Australia Day and getting right into it.”
The silverware of the 2021 KNTNA season will never leave the walls of McCorquindale Park and it was a simple decision for the Eagles to retain the services of Egan.
“It was very exciting to be asked to do the job again,” she said.
“It went to the committee and it was an unanimous decision which was quite flattering.
“It is a long time until April next year, but most of our team is sticking around which is great because everyone is keen to enjoy the same feeling of success again and hopefully we might be able to implement one or two others into our side.
“We have some big plans in place.”
The joy of the breakthrough flag is still there for all to see in Penola and the premiership side will enjoy a netball trip this weekend.
Egan said she is already looking forward to collaborating with the football players during preseason and building on the success of 2021.
“Everyone is still really excited and asking me if I am still on a high,” she said.
“We will probably start our preseason around January and do a lot of work with the footballers like we have done in the past.
“It has been really good to work alongside them and get that one-club feel and do a different type of training which is always competitive and fun.”