CHARLES Sturt University (CSU) have snared a key forward from country Victoria.
The Bushpigs have signed Austin Harwood from Colac and District club Irrewarra-Beeac, a 198 centimetre key forward that is moving to Wagga next year for university.
CSU fought off a couple of Hume League clubs to snare his services, ending the Bushpigs' hunt for a much-needed key target in attack.
The Bushpigs have also welcomed Hugh Wakefield from Coolamon.
Wakefield joins his brother Harry at CSU after playing in the Hoppers' Riverina League reserve grade premiership in September.
CSU co-coach Trent Cohalan was rapt to get Harwood to the club.
"He's a really impressive kid," Cohalan said.
"He's obviously coming up here for uni first and foremost but he said he's pretty serious about his footy and wants to be in an environment where he can continue to grow and obviously play a good level of footy and hopefully be successfully.
"It's a pretty good thing for us to sign a kid like that, who has had senior experience, he's obviously coming to us as being 20 next year, not an 18-year-old kid, he's had a season of senior footy down in Colac and we're pretty excited by what he brings to the table as well.
"We think he'll probably be more forward than ruck. That's his preferred spot, but he'll be able to go in there and he's played at either end of the ground so he'll be able to play defence if needed as well."
Harwood played 15 first grade games for Irrewarra-Beeac this year and is expected to form a partnership alongside Sean Holgate as CSU's key talls up forward. It will also allow former co-coach Dusty Rogers to return to defence.
Cohalan is just as excited to welcome Wakefield, who has played 18 first grade games at Coolamon over the past two years.
"He's been on the radar of the club for a little while now, obviously with Harry at the club already, it made sense to go after him," Cohalan said.
"He's clearly wanted to play a higher level of footy at Coolamon the last couple of times. He wasn't too sure what he was going to do with his footy next year...so we're absolutely rapt to get him on board.
"I think he's probably been a little bit underrated, to be fair. He's been one of the first guys out of the side, which I think has been a lot to do with his work, he's away a fair bit and misses a little bit of training.
"We're pretty excited by what he can bring to our midfield group, he's pretty polished with his ball use, he's pretty sharp pace wise and seems to hit the scoreboard when he's resting forward as well.
"I think he adds a bit of polish to our midfield group, which is what we set out to try and achieve in the off-season."
Wakefield shapes as an ideal replacement for Lachie Moore, who is about to embark on a move to Newcastle and is undecided on his playing future.
The Bushpigs have also lost key defender Connor Kelly, who has returned home after completing his university studies.
"We certainly don't have a recruitment list that is miles long, we're pretty comfortable with what we've got, to be honest," Cohalan said.
"We went out looking for a key forward and a potentially a ruck to help with the developing talls that we already have and then probably a couple of outside mids who have a bit of polish with their ball use.
"So to pick up Hugh, first off, is fantastic for that midfield rotation and then Austin Harwood, comes to us as a 198cm centre-half-forward.
"Hopefully we can be on the improve because it looks like it's going to be a pretty hot comp."
CSU continued their upward trajectory this year by enjoying their first finals win in 22 years.
The Bushpigs will begin pre-season training on January 16 and already have pre-season trial games locked in against Henty (March 9), Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes (March 14) and Lockhart (March 23).