The last of Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong’s seven-time premiership players, Luke Walsh, has made the switch to the Farrer League, bringing serious clout to North Wagga’s flag ambitions.
Walsh has never played anywhere but the Lions, where he chalked up 200 games in 2016.
He said leaving wasn’t an easy decision to reach but he elected to join forces with good mate and former GGGM teammate, Saints coach Kirk Hamblin.
Walsh also joins another ex-Lion, Lachlan Steward, who signed last week as an assistant coach at McPherson Oval.
“It was a tough decision to leave Ganmain,” Walsh said. “I went back and forth a bit and it wasn't easy telling them but it’s what I felt I wanted to do.
“I’m excited about playing footy with Kirk again – it’s been a while – and about a fresh start and seeing something different.”
Walsh is one of only three Lions (along with Mitch Steele and Christen McPherson) to play in all seven premierships of their dominant era (2004-6, 2008-11) earlier this century.
The midfielder had expressed an interest in pursuing a coaching role at his home club but said he’s now looking forward to playing without any formal leadership responsibilities.
“I did want to coach and it didn’t pan out,” Walsh said. “But I’ve had a lot of great experiences at Ganmain.
“Now I’m looking forward to just playing footy… from what I’ve seen North Wagga is a pretty quick, pretty young side so I’m keen to reinvigorate myself playing in a group with a fair bit of youth and a fair bit of talent.”
Walsh, 30, may end up with a role in the backline, guiding the Saints’ defence. He’s hoping to be involved in finals for the first time since 2014.
“I’m looking forward to that, hopefully,” Walsh said.
“They obviously had a good season this year. They were disappointed in the way they finished (with consecutive finals losses) but they've definitely got the foundations for a good crack at finals footy, hopefully a couple of wins in finals footy and I’ll just see what I can bring to the group.”
Hamblin believes Walsh is a perfect fit.
“I’m stoked to get him across, I’ve known him my whole life and I think he’s exactly what the North Wagga footy club needs,” Hamblin said.
“He’s won seven first grade grand finals at Ganmain and played over 200 first grade games so he’s got the experience.
“He’s got a great football brain. He knows how to win grand finals and he’s stood up over the years at finals time. I think the boys can learn a lot from him in the way he trains and the way he plays.”