Young Lions will be the beneficiaries of a brand new American import as the club looks to go one better in 2019.
Brad Galvin’s side were last year’s Cinderalla story in the Pascoe Cup, charging from wooden spooners to grand finalists in what proved their best season in club history.
The fairy tale was snuffed out at the death with Lake Albert clinching the 2018 premiership but Lions coach Mark Mellish is hoping to play a new trump card this year.
Bolstered by the re-signing of regular skipper Duncan Cameron late last year, who spurned Wagga City Wanderers in favour of his home club, Mellish has ushered American signing Aaron Jeffries into the fold.
The 29-year-old Kentucky native touched down in Young last year and Mellish is eager to see what he can deliver in the coming season.
“He’s been here for a while now and he’s come in and assimilated really well with the guys,” Mellish said.
“His background’s mainly the indoor stuff (futsal) but he’s come down to training a few times and he’s getting back up to speed.
“From what I’ve seen already, he’s got really good composure and decision making with the ball, so we’re looking to put him in a defensive midfield role.”
Mellish flagged his interest in signing international players late last year and is confident of retaining Jeffries’ services for the season.
“We’ve still got to sort out a few things like his working visa and all that, but we think he’ll be a great asset for the team.
“(Aaron)’s looking like a good all-round squad member and he’s as good as our other first graders, so there’ll hopefully be some really good competition for spots.
“I think he’ll be really good in a mentoring role too – not necessarily a formal one – and he’ll be working with the women’s side as well.”
The Lions have already commenced pre-season training with Mellish looking to finalise trial games against both Pascoe Cup rivals and external challengers.
“We’ve got a pre-season hit out with Macquarie United up in Dubbo in the works, so hopefully we can put that together, and we’re also looking to try and get some game time in against (Wagga City) Wanderers too,” Mellish said.
“Traditionally, we arrange something with Cootamundra which we’ll look to try and do again and there’s also some interest in having a game with Panorama FC up in Bathurst.
“But yeah, training’s going well and we’re ready to go.”
Mellish said his squad was shaping up nicely but did not rule out searching for another import player.