Tumut set for big player turnover with five recruits not returning

OFF TO QUEENSLAND: Tamati Ioane, who won Tumut's best and fairest in 2017, has signed a deal with Wynnum Manly. Picture: Kieren L Tilly
OFF TO QUEENSLAND: Tamati Ioane, who won Tumut's best and fairest in 2017, has signed a deal with Wynnum Manly. Picture: Kieren L Tilly

After making a massive leap forward in 2017, Tumut are almost starting from scratch once again.

The Blues have confirmed the majority of their recruits from last season won’t be back for another year.

There has been five confirmed departures at the Blues with questions mark surrounding three more.

The influx helped the club go from wooden spooners to preliminary finalists, but they face an uphill battle to sustain their new place in the Group Nine pecking order.

Co-coach Dean Bristow admitted the club has some work to do.

“We have a bit of a hole there to fill,” Bristow said.

“We need some players, there is no denying that, we don’t just want to sign anyone.

“We want to make sure they fit the bill and will be good for us.”

While Adam Pearce has been locked in as co-coach and Dan Killian has signed on again, there are plenty of Blues stars not returning.

Best and fairest winner Tamati Ioane heads the list after linking with Queensland Cup team Wynnum Manly.

Young forward Jake McGrath is another who won’t be returning after a strong season with the club.

Centre Moses Esera and winger Masivesi Dakuwaqa also won’t be at the club.

Esera has gone back to New Zealand while Dakuwaqa, who joined the club midway through the season from the Canberra Raiders in another to go home.

The winger won an Olympic gold medal with the Fijian rugby sevens team before trying his hand at a shot at the NRL.

He’s back in Fiji and looking to re-establish himself in the sport.

Bristow said the club is working hard on sourcing new players, but are yet to secure anyone.

“We are now in the wings on the search to find a few players,” he said.

“We are trying hard at the moment and talking to a few people.

“Hopefully we can get some signings.”

There is also doubts over whether front rower Gordon Karaitiana and halfback Raymond Luke will be back.

Luke shapes as the most likely to return out of the pair.

“We’ve spoke to Ray but he is unsure about what he is going at the moment,” Bristow said.

“I wouldn’t completely rule him out.”

It comes with the departure of coach Jarrad Teka.

Tumut confirmed they are looking to focus on local talent more this season and most look set to stay.

However young winger Mitch Ivill, who missed the end of the season with an elbow injury, is in doubt as he weighs up travel plans in 2018.