Excitement is building at the Wahgunyah Lions Football Club after the announcement of five key signings for the 2018 season.
The Lions have snapped up Nathan Rhodes, Andrew Ollington and Sam Haigh from CDHBU, as well as Corey Smith from Moyhu and Jack Reiter from Wangaratta Rovers.
And while the football season is months away the Lions are already working hard at pre-season training, with players eyeing off a premiership in 2018.
The 2017 season saw the seniors make the semi-finals but were knocked out by Rutherglen.
Playing coach Sam Burdon is hopeful the team can go deeper into September next season and play in the grand final.
“We got knocked out by Rutherglen which hurts a fair bit and obviously we really want to get one back on them,” he told the Free Press.
Burdon said playing finals this year could have come as a surprise to some but not to him.
“To me, personally, I wasn’t surprised, we have a great group who play well together,” he said.
Burdon had many great things to say about the new faces at the club.
“The blokes we have recruited bring a lot of class and experience to a young side, the average age would probably be around 21 to 22 years of age,” he said.
“I based my recruiting around local footballers and ex-footballers and Jack Reiter had the connection with his girlfriend playing netball here.
“In the past we have recruited from outside the area and it probably hasn’t worked, but now we have a good young group and we really want to keep that together because in the next two, three, five years it will be promising and exciting moving forward.”
The five recruits have some impressive accolades on their resume.
Ollington boasts a best and fairest award with CDHBU and has been twice runner-up in the past few seasons.
“I am looking forward to a fresh start, I have a lot of mates here as well and I’m great mates with the coach,” he said.
Smith, who has played at Moyhu for the past two seasons, has kicked 155 goals in 34 matches for the Ovens and King league club and won a best and fairest.
“The travel started building up over the last couple of years and I thought it was a good time to come over and I have some good mates here at the club,” he said.
“I live in Corowa so it will be a lot closer for me.”
Rhodes, who has represented both the Hume and Ovens and Murray leagues, said he wanted a change of league and club and it is closer to home for the Wahgunyah resident.
“I am excited about the new league, to try something different,” he said.
“Wahgunyah is a strong team and hopefully with a few of the boys who have come over from CDHBU we can take them a little further.”
Meanwhile, Burdon is impressed with Reiter’s skill set for his age after playing half forward for Wangaratta Rovers at just 20 years of age.
“I am excited to meet new blokes, hopefully we play finals and it should be good,” Reiter said.
Reiter said the decision to swap clubs was not a difficult one.
“My girlfriend plays netball here, so I spent a bit of time here last year and the boys got in contact with me and I was up for a change,” he said.
Haigh, who joined the Power two years ago, previously played in the team of the decade at Cardiff in the Black Diamond club in Newcastle.
The young recruit is looking forward to a change and hopes to get a look in at finals time.
“I want to play a role in the team and help them take it one step further,” he said.