One of Wagga’s worst-kept soccer secrets has finally been confirmed with star striker Jake Ploenges announcing his formal commitment to Wagga City Wanderers for the coming season.
The former Henwood Park goal magnet signed with Wagga United in October last year, ending a nine-year stint with the Hawks, but the circumstances surrounding Wagga’s dual registration saga left him to decide between a new Pascoe Cup challenge or the lure of Canberra’s NPL.
In the end, it was a straightforward decision for Ploenges.
“I guess it’s bad for me to say but I’ll be playing Wanderers next year,” he said.
“My (partner) is playing with Wanderers as well this year and I’m keen to be playing at the same club as her, so that played into it too.
“But it’s also being in that much more competitive league ... and going into the Canberra comp is pretty exciting.”
United coach Travis Weir said he had been aware of Ploenges’ impending departure.
“We have known about that (decision) for some time,” Weir said.
“We just wish him all the best and hope he pushes himself to be a part of the first grade set up.”
Ploenges still harbours no regrets after making the off-season shift to Duke of Kent Oval, saying it would have been “good to play” with United.
He also suggested Henwood Park would be “better” in the coming season under reinstated coach Matt Menser.
“I guess I wasn’t happy at the end of last season, especially after our semi final loss to Young, and I still think moving (to United) was the right call for me,” Ploenges said.
“It’s good to see there’s change happening there (at Henwood Park) though and I might’ve enjoyed playing under him again too.”
Now, it’s all eyes on the future and the 22-year-old has since been a regular at Wanderers’ pre-season slog.
“I’ve been getting down to training and it’s looking really good, the culture and the team feels like it’s improved heaps,” Ploenges said.
“There’s more local players coming in and it’s good to see guys like Fred and Henri (Gardner) be involved – we’re a Wagga team and we want all the best Wagga players to be there.”
Nevertheless, there’s still work to do and he’s under no illusions about the challenge of securing a starting berth in a side bursting with attacking talent.
“It’s going to really tough to get into that side – I’d be happy to play anywhere the coach needs me.”