LIKE many players from teams in the flag hunt, Ryan Turnbull simply found it too difficult to walk away from Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes.
Turnbull was one of the Canberra-based players unable to play in the last few rounds due to ACT's lockdown, in a season which was ultimately cancelled before finals could be played.
MCUE's travelling contingent kept training on their own in the hope the season would restart, and after doing those hard yards Turnbull wants a chance to complete the challenge.
The club is looking for its first flag since 1993 and although Turnbull only signed a ten game contract, pledged early on to play as many as possible to help them achieve their goal.
Other travelling players like Nick Collins, Dom Bunyan and Trent Castles have also re-committed, with Canberra-based ruckman Sam De Sousa's departure the major hole to fill.
"Everyone at the club was very welcoming and they're a good bunch of people. The way the season ended I just had to give it another crack," he said.
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"It (season closure) was very frustrating. The Thursday before the second last round when we couldn't play, we were hopeful it would only be a couple of weeks and we'd be able to get back for a prelim.
"It was very frustrating trying to keep fit and not be around anything, it was something else."
Inside midfielder Turnbull will have more help at the coal face this year with former Queanbeyan and North Wagga best and fairest Lachlan Highfield signing with the Goannas.
MCUE have identified a bit more size around the stoppages as an area to bolster, and he will take some pressure of Turnbull and Ethan Schiller.
Turnbull has played against Highfield many times in the Canbera competition when at Belconnen, and said he will add grunt and class to the midfield.
"He's a very good pickup. He's a very strong bodied and fit player with a nice kick, there's not too many negatives with him," he said.
Turnbull said he was pleasantly surprised by the strength of the Riverina League during his first campaign.
"It was actually better than I'd been expecting. You just go on word of mouth and there's a lot of good players in the comp," he said.
"The home ground advantages are pretty big I noticed in the country. It was pretty fun to get around all the country areas and play, and it was pretty strong I thought this year."
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