North Wagga will carry an air of expectation into next season with two big additions adding weight to their recruitment campaign.
Collingullie-Glenfield Park premiership player, James Morris, and former Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong ruckman, Josh Hanlon, will join the Saints.
Morris, who kicked four goals in the Demons’ 2015 grand final win, will reprise his role as a forward, having primarily played in defence last year.
After a couple of years of fishing, North Wagga coach Kirk Hamblin was happy to land his old Culcairn teammate.
“Jimmy’s been the first bloke I’ve rang for the last three years,” Hamblin said.
“He’ll definitely play key forward to us. At Culcairn he kicked over 50 goals one year and he’s kicked over 50 goals in the (Riverina League) as a key forward. He’s pretty skilful, he’s got a good reach, strong hands and we’ll use him down forward.”
The signing of Morris is crucial, with the Saints’ Canberra-based forward Alex Grozinger not returning for a third season, and avenues to goal a concern in recent years.
“He’s learnt a really good trade at Collingullie – a really strong club and played in a lot of grand finals and won flags, so he knows how to get the job done on the big stage and that definitely helps,” Hamblin said.
Likewise, North Wagga have been short on ruckmen in the last two years.
After playing behind Jacob Olsson at GGGM, Josh Hanlon has opted for a change and follows Luke Walsh and Lachlan Steward to McPherson Oval.
“Charles (Shaw) has done the bulk of the work over the last couple of years and I’m sure he’ll appreciate the hand,” Hamblin said.
“Josh is a good ruckman, a young up and coming player, plenty of height, very athletic so we’re looking forward to seeing what he’s made of. He definitely wants to be a number one ruckman, that’s the goal he’s set himself.”
Hamblin acknowledged the strength of their recruiting will fuel expectation at North Wagga.
“There’s a bit of a buzz around the club,” he said.
“The club's really happy that North Wagga is a destination club, where people want to be at. We’ve just been lucky to get good footballers and good people.
“Obviously we’ve recruited well but over the last two years we haven’t been able to win a final so definitely the expectation is on myself from the club to perform.”