Temora have taken a couple of big steps towards consolidating their position as a Farrer League contender with three new signings and the return of some familiar faces.
Importantly, the Kangaroos hope they’ve found the man to fill a Charlie Vallance-sized hole in their side, signing Canberra-based defender Max Richardson.
A centre-half-back, Richardson played 14 games for Ainslie this year, including the grand final win over Eastlake which provided the Tricolours with a third consecutive premiership.
Richardson was also picked in the AFL Canberra representative squad.
“He comes with some big raps, he played in Ainslie’s premiership side last year, and he loves a contest,” Temora coach Jake Wooden said.
“Charlie leaves a big hole for us, especially after losing Mark Breust from centre-half-forward as well, so we tried to fill it pretty quick. That was the focus for us, to keep our spine nice and strong.”
As well as replacing bigger bodies, Wooden said adding pace was a priority and was pleased to lock in two teenagers out of the Northern Riverina League.
Will McMartin is a midfielder/forward flanker who has been among West Wyalong’s best in well over half of his games in the last two seasons, as well as jagging 27 goals in 29 games.
Lake Cargelligo’s Layne Smith is a similar style. He is also coming off two full seasons of senior football and was in Lake’s best in four of his 18 games this year.
“They’re quick, skilful kids which is what we need,” Wooden said.
“It’s one area we lacked a bit this season so it’s good. They were both looking to play a better standard and test themselves so it’s a good opportunity for them to come across.”
The Temora news was tempered by ruckman Anthony Atkin’s switch to Coolamon.
As well as Atkin, Vallance and Breust, the Kangaroos will be without Damien Ponting, Chase Grintell and Abe Wooden.
So the coach was rapt to confirm that forward Matt Harpley (knee reconstruction) and midfielders Robbie Drummond and Tim Hols (year off) are committed to playing again in 2019.
“They’re three local players who didn’t play this year so they’re like new recruits. It will be great to have them back,” Wooden said.
“It’s a really good feeling around the place, signing a few players and having a few more locals around. It’s great.
“Two or three weeks ago it was looking pretty hard to get a few players across the line but things have turned around.”
Wooden said after falling only a kick short of a premiership in 2017 and then making the preliminary final this year, there’s a determination at the club to press for success next year and not let their opportunity slip away.