Wagga Tigers' quest to return to the top of the Riverina League has been boosted by the return of Jesse Manton.
Tigers announced the signing of Manton at the club's presentation night on Saturday, where coach Murray Stephenson claimed the best and fairest in his first season at Tigers.
The mood lifted as Tigers announced the return of the 2019 Jim Quinn Medallist.
Manton is a popular figure at Robertson Oval, having played in the club's 2016 and 2019 Riverina League premierships, as well as the 2020 AFL Riverina Championships flag.
Stephenson was thrilled to welcome on board a man he has heard so much about.
"He's exactly what we need," Stephenson said.
"Especially losing Brendy Myers, that takes a bit out of that midfield depth so Jesse will come in and be a pretty polished replacement.
"The first year here a lot of the boys kept asking about Jesse, where's Jesse at, is Jesse coming back so he's definitely had an effect on the playing group. He's obviously a pretty popular member of the group so I'm very happy."
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Manton effectively had last season off football, playing two games in AFL Sydney for Inner West Magpies.
He played all eight games in Tigers' AFL Riverina Championships campaign but it was the 2019 season where he had the biggest impact.
Manton kicked 36 goals from 20 games, rotating between deep forward and the midfield, winning the Jim Quinn Medal along the way.
He saved his best performance for the year in the preliminary final where he almost single-handedly tore Coolamon apart with a nine-goal best-on-ground performance.
Manton then kicked another three in Tigers' grand final win over Griffith a week later.
The former Swans Districts footballer also won the Albertson League best and fairest, the Peter Moore Medal, when playing in country Victoria in 2018.
Stephenson revealed Tigers have him earmarked for more time in the midfield next year.
"We anticipate him playing a bit more midfield next season," he said.
"Watching a bit of vision that I've seen of Jesse, I see him as a midfielder that can definitely go forward and there will be stages through the year when he will go forward but I see him more as a midfielder-forward, rather than a forward that pinch hits through the middle."
Manton is Tigers' second signing for the off-season, having already welcomed former Culcairn captain Ben Gould.
They will be without Brendy Myers (Sydney) and Harry Kelly (Adelaide) next season, and most likely Charlie Bance (Queensland) too.
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