Former North Wagga ruckman, Jeremy Luff, says the chance to test himself in the Ovens and Murray League was too good an opportunity to pass up.
Luff has said goodbye to the only Aussie rules club he’s known, moving to Albury to see whether he can make his mark on the border.
There are no guarantees for Luff at Lavington, who finished runners-up to Albury Tigers last year.
But Panthers coach, James Saker, has offered him a glimpse of a promise.
“They said they didn’t have a full-time first grade ruckman and it was sort of four guys vying for the position,” Luff said.
“He just said he could see that if I put it to myself that I could sort of slot in there. Either that, or as the resting ruckman and forward.
“It’s good, it keeps me focussed and makes me drive myself to succeed a bit more.”
At 22, Luff is coming off his best season, winning the Saints’ best-and-fairest – no mean feat in a team which provided the Clear Medallist (Corey Watt) and player of the year as voted on by the coaches (Kirk Hamblin).
He was also part of the Farrer League’s successful representative team – an experience which helped build his confidence.
“At the start of the year I was like, I should probably have a decent crack, give 100 percent at training and try and work on everything to better my game,” he said.
He’s taking the same approach at Lavington, where pre-season started on December 1, and the coach is emailing what is required of each player before the session starts.
“That’s a fair bit different to what I’m used to,” Luff said.
“There was guidelines of where you need to be – low, middle and high intensity running, gym work, all that sort of stuff, so it’s pretty full-on.”
After six years of first grade, Luff’s already a veteran. But he’s young enough to want to know where he stands in the big scheme of things.
Now, he’s trying to crack it in a team boasting former St Kilda 200-gamer, Justin Koschitzke, who kicked 58 goals this season and has confirmed he’ll return for a third season with Lavington.
If Luff proves himself in the pre-season, the first real test will on Good Friday, in a grand final rematch against Albury Tigers.
Luff leaves North Wagga with the blessing of the Saints, who he joined as a 14-year old after a junior background playing rugby league in Young.
With North Wagga semingly on the rise, Luff said it crossed his mind that he might be leaving at the wrong time, but he’ll be cheering them on.
“I’d be happy for them to succeed but at the same time, I’d be gutted that I wasn’t there to enjoy it with them.”
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