Coolamon have landed one of the biggest recruitment coups in recent Riverina League history by signing former AFL player Jake Barrett.
The Hoppers secured Barrett’s signature on Wednesday night after months of talks, beating a host of rival clubs both locally and across the country.
Barrett arrives at Coolamon straight off an AFL list after being delisted by the Brisbane Lions at the end of the season.
He held out hope for an AFL lifeline in last week’s draft but was not picked up, bringing an end to his 23-game AFL career over five seasons at both Brisbane and Greater Western Sydney (GWS).
Barrett cannot wait to begin his next chapter at Coolamon.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Barrett said.
“It was a bit unfortunate to miss out (in the draft) but at the same I’m looking forward to the next chapter and getting stuck into it at Coolamon.”
Barrett is believed to be the first player since Chris Daniher in 1998 that joined a Riverina or Farrer League club straight from the AFL.
While his partner’s family resides near Coolamon, Barrett said it was the club’s culture that attracted him most to the Hoppers.
“It was probably just the community and the culture there,” he said.
“Meeting with Jamie Maddox, Mitch (Robinson) and Connor (Neyland), I liked what they had to say and where they are headed. There is a strong culture there and sense of community. It’s close to home at the same time.
“There were a few others, Victoria way, but I wanted to be close to home and I really liked what the club is doing at the moment.”
Barrett, 23, hails from Temora and played in the Kangaroos’ 2012 and 2013 Farrer League premierships before being picked up by the Giants.
Barrett’s arrival will be a massive injection for Coolamon, who missed finals this year.
Coolamon coaching coordinator Mitch Robinson was stoked to welcome Barrett on board.
“It’s massive for the footy club and it’s really good for the league as well,” Robinson said.
“Jake’s a down to earth, good bloke. It’s really big for the club and points towards a bright future with our kids.
“With our recruiting, we realise we’ve got a talented bunch of kids there, obviously having made the 17s grand final this year, so we wanted to get someone like Jake to put around them, with his professionalism and leadership.”
Barrett spent his two years at Brisbane as predominantly a small forward but will walk into Coolamon’s midfield next year alongside Nick Pleming, Luke Redfern and Maddox.