Wagga United coach Travis Weir has shrugged off the loss of star striker Jake Ploenges with the inclusion of two former premiership players to his 2019 squad.
United already bolstered their stocks after retaining the services of Tyler Allen and Max Lycett amidst the dual registration saga, however, Weir’s off-season recruitment has continued behind the scenes.
Dual Pascoe Cup winners, Cameron Farey and Eugene Rauber, featured heavily in United’s glory years of 2013 and 2014 and have since caught the attention of the United general.
It’s been a while between drinks for the pair but, after some pre-season chatter, Weir is expecting both to return to the orange strip this season.
“Cam’s a really exciting one for us, I think,” Weir said.
“He’s played in two premierships (2013 and 2014) with a lot of first grade under his belt and from memory, he had good success in the juniors as well coming up.
“It’s been a little while since he’s kicked a footy but it’s exciting to have him back.
“Then we’ve got Eugene who’s going to be a good guy to have around the club as well.”
United fans will have high hopes after the club surged late in last year’s campaign to an eventual semi final berth – a torrid 3-1 loss to Lake Albert – and should be keeping the faith with the Crows’ latest crop.
“It’s great that we’ve still got lots of players hanging around, especially the younger fellas, and those guys like Alec Hope and Nazar Yousif will be really important for us again,” Weir said.
“Alec will be taking on the (captain’s) armband while Lincoln (Weir) is out injured … and Naz committing to us again is huge.
“He’s simplified his game a lot over the last 12 months and worked really hard and I think it showed later in the year.”
Weir is confident the side will be in the mix when September rolls around.
”We’ve set our goals as being in the finals again, well that’s where we’ll start anyway.”
“I think that if we can find a consistent brand of football, we won’t be chasing our tails like last year and then maybe we can be in the mix.
“We weren’t great defensively in the first half of the year, so that’s definitely an area we’ll look at and hopefully Linc will get back early because he’s so important for us in defence.
“At the end of the day, we’d love to win it but we won’t really know what we’ve got until the season kicks off.”
Weir is hopeful of confirming more signings in the coming weeks.