Former North Wagga junior Guy Ward is excited about his return to McPherson Oval next season, nearly six years after he left Wagga for South Australia.
Ward played a game with the SANFL Crows this year as part of their development squad while plying his trade in the amateur league with Glenunga. The club has won the last two premierships and the midfielder kicked three goals in a best-on-ground grand final effort this year.
But it was watching a livestream of North Wagga’s grand final loss that made the 25-year-old realise the time was right to come home.
“It’ll be good. A lot of the boys I played juniors with are still there and (watching the grand final) made me want to get back there sooner rather than later and have a good couple of years at the club while I’m still young enough,” Ward said.
Ward’s last two seasons locally were with Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes in 2012 and 2013 (the latter interrupted by injury) and he was also part of the Riverina League representative squad both years.
The Saints were particularly keen on Ward with star midfielder Lachie Highfield not returning next season.
And their high profile departures have doubled with key forward Daniel Jordan also going back to the Canberra competition after three seasons in the Farrer League.
“DJ will be a massive loss not just on the field but off it too,” North Wagga coach Kirk Hamblin said of his former assistant.
“He’s a great bloke and he’s really helped me the last three years with my coaching.
“He’s got a great family and it’s family reasons he’s moving back to Canberra for, which is understandable.”
Jordan came to North Wagga as a key defender and leaves with a reputation as one of the league’s most dangerous forwards. He kicked 71 goals in 16 games this season after booting 54 across the previous two seasons playing primarily as a key defender swinging forward.
Hamblin said he’ll be sorely missed but the Saints won’t chase a carbon copy replacement.
“We won’t really be going looking for a key forward, we’ve got blokes there who can play a role forward,” he said.
“As far as recruiting’s going, it was never the plan to sign a heap of numbers. We’ve signed up the one footballer and we’re very happy with our list and our juniors.”
That one footballer is Ward, who Hamblin said they made immediate contact with once they knew he might be returning.
“Very happy to have him back at his home club. He’s obviously learnt a lot in Adelaide,” Hamblin said.
“We’ll be using him through the midfield and he can also go forward or back.
“He’s a good ball user on the left and right side and he’s a smooth mover.”
North Wagga are also keen to lean on Ward’s expertise as a personal trainer for help with their strength and conditioning.
He’s heading home to Wagga in the new year.
“I think North Wagga are in a good spot and I know that from a professional sort of talking point, a lot of the players really are wanting to be the best they can be,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to my home club.”
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