A Tuggeranong Hawks legend and the prospect of a potential Sean Ellis clone should inject some excitement into Barellan's Farrer League season.
Ben Cleaver, a 200-gamer at Tuggeranong and former club captain, and small forward/midfielder Marcus Lawrence are the first key signings for new Two Blues coach Alex Lawder.
Cleaver hasn't played much over the last two years but is only in his early 30s and will add depth and experience to the midfield.
"I'm pretty stoked with getting him on board, he was one of our targets," Lawder said.
"I'm very happy to pry Benny out of retirement, if you can call it that at his age.
"I don't know how many b-and-f's he's won but he's got a lot of respect. He's an inside footballer and very clean so it'll suit him, it'll be his type of footy."
Cleaver will be joined by Lawrence who has been at Queanbeyan.
"Marcus, in a practice match a couple of years ago when we played Temora, he kicked seven," Lawder said.
"He's a small forward but he's got the capability to go into the midfield or on a wing. If I was to compare him to someone, I'd compare him to (Barellan star) Sean Ellis. He can take the game on and he's an exciting little player."
Lawder expects both to have a big impact.
The Canberra-based coach hasn't ruled out more recruits but was thrilled with what he saw at Barellan at a recent training session.
"I absolutely loved it. I think it was as important for them to meet me as it was for me to meet them," he said.
"I was able to put out my standards and go through what I expect and what we want to strive for... which is all about the team. I definitely got the point across which was good."
Continual improvement is the aim, with five wins the initial goal.
Lawder will get a gauge of their progress in practice matches against Googong Hogs in Canberra in four weeks, and against Narrandera on March 27.
The coach had signed on to play at Barellan last year, before COVID-19 cut the year down. He's previously played with Narrandera under Jim Rice and has been bemused by much of the recent talk of an 'exodus' from Canberra.
"There's a lot of guys over the years that have travelled (from the Riverina) and played for Canberra Demons and a lot of other clubs in Canberra. It's swings and roundabouts, it goes both ways," he said.
For his part, Lawder can't wait for another taste of country football and says there's a lot to be said for footballers testing themselves in a different league, and taking up the opportunity to have a change of scenery.
- MORE SPORTS NEWS
- Gordon calls time on superb stint in region | Photos
- Australian rules community mourns 'a colossus of the game'
- Hume's David v Goliath battle in O'Farrell Cup