High profile signing Jarrad Boumann will be back at East Wagga-Kooringal next season, among a host of re-signings at the Hawks, who have also added exciting Holbrook talent Corey McCarthy to their playing list.
McCarthy, a premiership player in Wagga Tigers' 2020 AFL Riverina Championship (in between two full senior seasons at Holbrook) will join older brothers Daniel and Kieren at Gumly Oval.
"He's only 20 years old, he's got a heap of ability and a lot to offer," Hawks coach Matt Hard said.
"He can play various roles, he can play mid-forward, he can play across half-back. He's got a very good football brain and a very good work ethic so we're pretty happy to get him on board."
Corey won the second grade best-and-fairest in 2020 at Tigers, and won a spot in the classy seniors grand final team in the short but high quality season created by COVID.
He's coming off 15 games in the Hume League, where he was in Holbrook's best in more than half his appearances.
Dan and Kieren McCarthy eased into last season at Gumly after recovering from injuries.
"They both probably scratched the surface of what they can do," Hard said.
"Dan played the last six and showed plenty, and Kieren the same coming off two serious knee injuries, so we get them coming in to pre-season with full confidence in their bodies."
"That in itself means they're like recruits themselves so we're pretty happy we've got three of the boys now."
League medallist Harry Fitzsimmons headlines a host of key Hawks who have recommitted, including Brocke Argus, Luke Cuthbert, Trent Garner, Nathan Scott, Nic Curran, Kyle North-Flanagan, Ryan Bourne, Jarrod Turner, Tom Pocock, and Boumann.
Most have been the nucleus of the Hawks but Boumann was a late signing this year and then restricted to five games.
EWK believe there's a lot more to see yet.
"We're rapt that Jarrad's on board again. He had an injury-interrupted year and we didn't see the best of him," Hard said.
"With a bit of luck he can hopefully have a change of fortune. If we can get him up and going, which we think we can, then it's going to be great for the competition.
"Internally, we've seen snippets of what he can do and it's very exciting, so to get a full year out of him would be awesome.
"The boys all look up to him and he's just got so much upside. We just need to see him fit and firing."
Turner and Pocock also missed a significant chunk of last year, giving Hard hope that there's plenty of room for improvement.
The Hawks will take on this year's minor premiers Marrar first-up.
It won't settle the question of what might have happened in finals but it whets the appetite for 2022.
"April 2 at Langtry Oval, it'll be good. It'll be good to get them first up," Hard said.
"They've obviously signed a few (including Tuggeranong's Logan Gray) and from all reports their retention is very high so you don't have to be Einstein to work out they're going to be the team to beat again.
"But we were confident hitting finals that we were in a pretty good headspace. We'll keep the majority of our group together and we'll get improvement just through those guys I've mentioned."
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