Wagga Tigers have kick-started their recruitment campaign with the return home of Jackson Kelly.
The 22-year-old has decided to return to Robertson Oval next season after two years in the Ovens and Murray League with Wodonga Raiders.
Kelly comes back to Tigers on the back of his best season to date, where he finished third in the Raiders’ best and fairest.
A premiership player at Tigers as a teenager, Kelly wants to help the club return to the top of the Riverina League.
“The boys seem like they have been struggling the last two years and I’ve given O&M a crack so I thought might come back,” Kelly said.
“Dad’s now involved a little bit so I thought I would come back and help them out a little bit.
“I’m definitely happy to be back at my home club. It will be good fun.”
The return of Kelly is a strong start to Tigers’ campaign, just weeks after announcing Troy Maiden as the club’s new coach.
Kelly enjoyed his time at Wodonga.
“I loved the O&M. It was good footy, a good standard. It was good,” he said.
“Just the standard, playing with a lot of good players around that area and just testing yourself, getting the best of yourself.”
Kelly wants to use the experience of the last two years to help become a leader in Tigers’ midfield.
“I’d like to be a midfielder back here at Tigers, with a bit of experience from the O&M and playing midfield there, hopefully I can cement a spot in the middle,” he said.
“I’d love to come back to Tigers and hopefully at least to make finals. I’d love to win a flag again but hopefully we can get the players to do that.”
Maiden is no stranger to Kelly, having had him as a junior representative coach in his teenage years.
Maiden is thrilled to have Kelly on board.
“He’s obviously a good player, having played in the Ovens and Murray League the last couple of years, and he’s going to bring some really good ball winning ability, speed and most importantly, good ball use too,” Maiden said.
“He’s coming off third in Raiders’ b&f and his finals series was really good too.”
Kelly will reunite with younger brother Ben at Tigers, who is coming off his best year off senior football as well, after finishing top five in the club’s best and fairest.
Paul, their father, is also taking a more hands-on approach at the club.