Charles Sturt University have taken a big step towards improving on a promising 2021, signing former Lockhart forward Jeff Ladd as an assistant coach.
Ladd kicked 24 goals in 11 games in a three-pronged attack at the Hume League club alongside Dwayne Weetra and Andrew Emery.
But key forwards have been few and far between at CSU (who lost Scott Barlin to a serious knee injury in round one this season) and Ladd fits the bill according to coach Travis Cohalan.
"We were always playing a fairly short and agile forward line but we just didn't have that bailout target and that real presence down forward," Cohalan said.
"In terms of actual forward craft we think Jeff will be very good. We've seen him at training a few times and he plays like a high quality forward - good leading patterns, a very good set of hands and a great set shot.
"From a leadership point of view, we don't have a lot of players over the age of, well, 21 or 22. So to be able to bring someone in with the footy experience he's had, and different footy he's played, is great."
Ladd, 27, is from Mildura.
Upon joining the RAAF, he played some seconds at Lockhart as a teenager but has spent his recent years in South Australia, playing amateur footy at Gepps Cross, some division one with Port District and country football at Berri, as well as doing a couple of pre-seasons at SANFL club Central Districts.
Now back in Wagga, teaching aircraft mechanics, and with partner Brooke expecting, he's keen to settle down and found a home with the 'Pigs after joining a couple of trainings last season.
"The boys are young and fit. They're all keen and got around me. I'm pretty excited. They made me feel part of the family," Ladd said.
"I really enjoyed it and I'm keen to try to solidify a key position at a club close to home and just get into it.
"I didn't play at Centrals. I did a couple of pre-seasons and that really helped me work on that part of my game (as a forward) and the last three or four years has been really good."
Ladd kicked 37 goals in nine games in 2020 and wants to recapture that form.
He arrived at Lockhart only in round four, and also missed four weeks with a groin injury.
He's also keen for the extra responsibility.
"Getting to 27-30 range, I want to transition into that sort of stuff, leadership and coaching. I've been learning a fair bit about forward play the last few years so I'm looking forward to helping out there, and learning," he said.
Ladd adds to the experienced players at CSU including now two-time club best-and-fairest winner Lachy Moore, who edged out ruckman Andrew Dickins.
"He had a great year... he's super fit but he can get it done both inside the contest and outside the contest," Cohalan said.
"I think he runs a marathon every week in the games... he plays midfield, he doesn't like swapping and his impact doesn't waiver - his intensity and how hard he can run. He's a fully deserving winner and we're looking forward to seeing how he can go next year."
The Bushpigs have retained the majority of their players including Moore, Dickins, assistant coach Wayde Archibald and other first grade award winners Steve Marsden, Max Findlay and Ben Browning, who had big seasons.
Club persons of the year- Paige Pressler and Claire Wilson
Best first year (netball)- Jess Knox
Best first year (football)- Stephen Marsden
Best & Fairest- Ali Bulle
B&F Runner Up - Emma Dickinson
Coaches Award - Jasmine Martin
Best & Fairest- Annabelle Thornley
B&F Runner Up - Georgie Quade
Coaches Award- Gabbie Forrest
Best & Fairest- Courtney Hagedoorn
B&F Runner Up - Jasmin Campbell-Brown
Coaches Award - Ivy Longmire
Best & Fairest- Emma Borlace
B&F Runner Up- Amy Belfanti
Coaches Award- Liesel Park
Best & Fairest- Pat Borg
B&F Runner Up- Sam Severin
Most Consistent- Sam Byrnes
Coaches Award- Aaron James
Best & Fairest- Lachy Moore
B&F Runner Up- Andrew Dickins
Most Consistent- Max Findlay
Coaches Award- Ben Browning
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