EAST Wagga-Kooringal have stormed right into Farrer League premiership calculations on the back of a spectacular off-season recruitment blitz.
The Hawks have snared the prized signings of Dylan Morton, Jerry Maslin, Luke Gerhard and Jeremy Piercy for next season, on the back of the earlier unveiling of new coach Jake Barrett.
Dylan Morton heads to Gumly Oval after one season back at Wagga Tigers as assistant coach, while Piercy returns to the Hawks also following one year at Robertson Oval.
Maslin, the 2021 Jim Quinn Medallist, follows Barrett to EWK after five years at Coolamon, while Gerhard also arrives from Kindra Park as the Hawks' new assistant coach.
Barrett couldn't be happier with the Hawks' acquisitions.
"It's more that they're quality people," Barrett said.
"That was a big thing with me coming over to East Wagga, I could see what they were trying to do.
"It's a credit to the blokes that were already at the club. Once I got around a few of them, the core, everyone has been really good in terms of wanting to stay and build the club up and once I knew that those boys were good, it made it a lot easier with the conversations with the boys we were chasing.
"To get them, it's not just what they'll bring on the field but it's also what they're going to bring off the field."
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Morton is the biggest surprise packet of the quartet and only signed with the Hawks last week after considering his future for the past two months.
The 26-year-old had just the one season back at his junior club, Wagga Tigers, after three years in Adelaide.
Barrett and Gerhard won Morton over with their vision for the Hawks.
"I'm pretty excited. After meeting with Baz and LG and seeing what they're putting together here with some really good blokes, I'm really excited about the year ahead," Morton said.
"It was (hard to leave Tigers). Change is always a little bit daunting but with that there is a lot of opportunities that lie ahead and pretty exciting ones to play with some blokes that I've played against and respected for a long time.
"They got me at a good time. After I met with Baz and LG, sat there and listened to them, they're just two really good blokes that were talking about what they're trying to build here and I suppose it related to me and I thought this is the place I'll play."
It was a tough decision for Gerhard given it means he will play against his home club Temora for the first time in his career.
But after six years at Coolamon across two different stints, he is keen to get back into coaching after previously being an assistant at Temora in 2018-19.
Gerhard, 32, said getting his head around playing against his home club Temora was the hardest part of the switch.
"It was a tough one, playing against my home club, that's probably the biggest factor in it but I know for our family and where we're at in life, it's more convenient for me to come across here and play now and spend some more time at home with the kids," Gerhard said.
"When one of your good mates and is taking on a coaching role and asks you to tag along with him, it's a hard thing to knock back. Coaching is something I want to get into and now is the time I think to do it.
"The club's got a clear direction in where they want to go and hopefully we can be part of that and be a little stepping stone to where they want to get to."
The Hawks have strengthened all areas of the ground in the recruitment blitz. Morton and Gerhard will strengthen EWK across half-back, Piercy will slot into the midfield, while Maslin has the ability to add another dimension to the forward line as well as pinch-hit on-ball.
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