NORTH Wagga's quest to climb back up the Farrer League ladder has got off to a good start with three new signings.
Former Coolamon forward Matt McGowan has come on board as North Wagga's new assistant coach and will be joined by his younger brother Will at McPherson Oval.
Family ties has also drawn Ash Bennett to the Saints as he joins his younger brother Isaac at the club.
North Wagga coach Damien Papworth believes the McGowan brothers will fit in perfectly at the Saints.
"They play a pretty physical game. Good sized lads which is probably what we lacked a little of there last year," Papworth said.
"Just mature bodies and they've got a few games of senior footy under their belts now so they will add a touch of experience without going and recruiting a couple of older blokes.
"They fit the group and the profile perfectly."
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Matt McGowan brings with him 110 games of first grade experience at Coolamon after debuting as a 16-year-old and has kicked 92 goals.
Will played in Coolamon's reserve grade premiership last month but played three first grade games this year, taking his career tally to 27.
Ash Bennett had this year off has played the season before at Wagga Tigers, where he's played 40 first grade games either side of a year at Lockhart.
Papworth believes all three will come in and play specific roles for the Saints.
"I hope Matty can play a role for us up forward, a centre-half-forward, full-forward type role, rotating through those positions. He got thrown around in a few positions this year but I think he's more keen on getting back to a full-time forward role, which is what we're chasing," Papworth said.
"We'll chuck Will in the ruck and we could even throw him deep forward. He's played a fair few minutes and been pretty solid in the ruck for the last couple of years for Coolamon in the ones and twos. He had a pretty reasonable year this year. He's just that bigger body to help.
"Ash's an on-ball type player. He's played a little bit off the half back flank and enjoyed that too. He's a pretty mature sized body which will help us through the middle and off half back."
The lure of a coaching role was what attracted Matt McGowan to North Wagga.
He's done coaching through the Giants Academy in recent years and wanted to take that experience to senior football.
"I've always been interested in coaching and Demon (Papworth) came to me and thought it would be a good opportunity to branch out and try something different," McGowan said.
"I've done a bit of Giants and that sort of thing. It's always something I wanted to get into it and it just seemed like the right time to jump in and have a crack."
The 24-year-old said it was a hard decision to leave Coolamon.
"Yeah, obviously family and everything out there. I've been out there nine years so it was a tough call but I'm happy with the decision I've made," McGowan said.
"It's always going to be home but it will be good for a little change up, something different.
"Obviously North Wagga weren't great last year but the only way is up and we've got a good bunch of blokes out there to start building something fresh and work our way back to the top hopefully."
For Will, 21, playing alongside his brother was important.
"Obviously Matt getting an assistant coaching role is a massive factor in it. I like playing footy with Matt and I want to keep doing that," Will said.
"Just a fresh scene, I've been at Coolamon for seven years now and just thought it was time for a bit of a change up, something different.
"I had a look who they had this year and it was very young but that year of experience has probably helped them and then you throw in a couple of blokes who had first grade experience at RFL level, I think it's definitely headed in the right direction. It should be fun."
After having this year off, Bennett, 24, is keener than ever before to get stuck in.
"I really missed it when I wasn't playing this year. I can't wait," Bennett said.
"I thought I wouldn't miss it but I actually did. I've never been this keen to play this early on after a season's just finished so I'm looking forward to it."
North Wagga claimed the wooden spoon this year in the Farrer League with just the one win but are expected to keep virtually all of their young list and have already started to build on it.
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