Wagga Tigers have continued their strong recruitment drive with the return of premiership defender Dylan Morton for next season.
Morton spent this season with East Malvern in the Southern Football League after moving to Melbourne for university.
He has decided on a return to Wagga next year and will provide Tigers with another much-needed key position option.
Morton cannot wait to return to Robertson Oval.
“I’ve got too many good mates there that I wanted to play with,” Morton said.
“Next year is my 21st year and I was going to be home every second weekend anyway for 21sts. It’s five hours from Melbourne so it was going to be hard to play there when I was going to be coming back for a lot of 21sts.
“So I decided I’ll move back to Wagga and play some footy with my best mates.
“I’ll do uni online for the year and enjoy it with my mates.”
Morton’s return is massive for Tigers.
He held down centre-half-back when he was last at Tigers in 2017 and was part of a formidable defensive group that led the club to the 2016 premiership.
Tigers struggled for key defenders this season and were forced to play Campbell Lovell at full-back for large periods of the year.
Morton, along with Ben Kelly, will provide new coach Troy Maiden with a couple of key defensive options.
Morton played 17 games for East Malvern this year and was named in the club’s best on five occasions.
He finished the year strongly and played a part in their run to the grand final, which they lost to St Pauls by 38 points.
The 20-year-old loved the experience.
“It was a great year. I had a great time,” he said.
“We made it to the grand final but lost that one. I learnt heaps though. Footy is like a religion in Melbourne, they’re absolutely crazy about it.
“But there’s no feeling like playing at your junior club so I’m really looking forward to that.”
Morton’s return comes on the back of similar moves from Tigers juniors Jackson Kelly, Will Keogh and Sam Ryan.
They have also signed Murray Magpies ruckman Tom Osmotherly.
Tigers have a busy start to the season with a round one clash with Leeton-Whitton at Leeton Showground, before they take part in the return of Good Friday football and netball, meeting arch-rival Turvey Park at Maher Oval.
They also face Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes and Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong in a big opening month.