Former Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong leader, Lachlan Steward, heads a quartet of new signings for North Wagga next season as the Saints search for the right formula to take the next step in the Farrer League.
Steward, 29, joins North Wagga as an assistant coach at the same time as the Saints have signed three players in their early twenties – exciting Tumbarumba prospect Tom Bennetts, former Griffith Swan Tyler Bruns, and ex-Leeton-Whitton junior Bill Boyes.
Steward is a former GGGM captain who was assistant coach at the Lions for the last two seasons.
He is keen to continue his development, signing as a co-assistant coach (alongside Daniel Jordan) under Saints coach Kirk Hamblin.
“I’d just like to keep moving in a coaching role and it wouldn’t have been available at Ganmain, so I jumped at the chance when it came up (at North Wagga),” Steward said.
“Kirk’s a good mate too and it’s definitely going to be a breath of fresh air for me in playing footy.”
Steward has kept an eye on the Saints and hopes he has something to offer.
“They’ve just got to grow and develop a bit more,” he said. “We’ve got a few things we’ll talk about and we’re going to work really hard in the pre-season and try to iron out a few things Kirk has identified.”
He joins a midfield including Lachie Highfield, Corey Watt and Cayden Winter.
“They're good young players and hopefully I can bring a bit of guidance,” he said.
Hamblin said as an experienced inside midfielder, Steward will bring an element of toughness and balance to their on-ball brigade.
The three additional signings will add to North Wagga’s depth.
Bennetts was Tumbarumba’s best-and-fairest this season, and kicked 17 goals in 14 games.
“He’s a big-bodied midfielder who can go forward and kick goals, which will be handy,” Hamblin said.
Bruns played eight senior games with the Swans this season and 13 last year. After moving to Canberra he’ll travel across with Highfield to play in the Farrer League.
“He’s pretty versatile, he can play in the middle, half-forward, across half-back or anywhere really,” Hamblin said.
Ruck prospect Boyes is returning to Australian rules after a two-year stint in Southern Inland Rugby with CSU Reddies and the Saints have high expectations of his potential.
North Wagga was one of the early pacesetters last season but never quite recovered from a late season slump.
Although the Saints still managed a top three finish to the home-and-away season, their year ended with back-to-back finals losses to Temora and East Wagga-Kooringal.