East Wagga-Kooringal’s bid for a drought-breaking premiership next season will be aided by a couple of familiar names – with a former player and the brother of a current player both headed for Gumly.
After a season of rugby union with Wagga Waratahs, Guy McAlister has decided to return to the Farrer League, much to the delight of Hawks coach Gavin McMahon.
“He’s really super quick, he’s quite aggressive and you can play him anywhere apart from the key positions,” McMahon said.
A rugby league junior, McAlister played three seasons with the Hawks, culminating in the 2014 grand final loss to Temora, before trying his hand at rugby union.
“He loves tackling, and he just went for the challenge,” McMahon said.
McAlister made a home for himself at outside centre for Waratahs but was on the wrong end of the result on grand final day for the second year in a row when his side went down to Albury.
McMahon also declared that Tim Smith will join his brother Stephen for the first time since juniors.
Tim Smith will move to Wagga from Canberra, after spending last season with Belconnen where he was named best first year player.
“He’s pretty keen and very excited as he and Steve have never played senior footy together,” McMahon said.
“He’s a backman and can play on a flank, in a pocket, or key position.
“He’s a little bit bigger build than Steve.”
The 26-year old played primarily at fullback for the Magpies, who went through the season undefeated only to be beaten in the grand final by Queanbeyan.
“There’ll be plenty of blokes in our side hungry for a win,” McMahon said, acknowledging that, as the Hawks still come to grips with losing the grand final to The Rock-Yerong Creek, their first two recruits for 2016 are also coming off grand final losses.
The signings come on the back of the Hawks retaining key forwards Marc Geppert and Christian Kelly and ruckman Nick Hull for next year, as well as their leadership group headed by Ben Absolum and Joe Scott.
The club’s losses have been limited to the retiring Chris Jackson and Ryan Campbell, as well as representative midfielder Stu Brierty, and Craig Pullen.
McMahon said the Hawks will keep their eyes open for further recruitment opportunities but are focussed on developing talent from within.
“In all honesty, we’re going to try and push a few of our reserve graders,” he said.
“If you want to test yourself as a coach, you want to try to develop your reserve graders.
“We’ve got a side that’s won two flags there and we really want to try to bring some of our guys on.”
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.