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Saints add State League talent

November 30, 2023 8:00 pm in by

A speedster who spent time with two VFL clubs and a ruckman with SANFL and VFL experience have been unveiled as recruits by GFNL powerhouse St Mary’s.

The Saints have confirmed the arrival at Anthony Costa Oval of Elijah Wales, who spent time at Werribee and Footscray, from Ovens and Murray club Myrtleford and former Glenelg and Frankston big Nick Minchin.

Connections can be invaluable in recruiting, which has proven the case regarding Wales’ addition.

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For new St Mary’s co-coach Luke Rayner, it’s been a signing that’s been 24 years in the making.

“It’s funny it can come full circle sometimes,” he said.

“2000 was my first coaching gig, and I arrived in Myrtleford not knowing anybody.

“I secured a gentleman named Ian Wales as my bench coach and my assistant coach, and Elijah Wales, at the time, was three years of age.

“So, to reconnect with the Wales family through Elijah – now a 27-year-old – signed up at Mary’s to play, it’s funny how things work out.”

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Rayner says Wales boosts St Mary’s in a couple of crucial areas.

“Elijah brings a range of attributes that I think will be really beneficial for us,” he said.

“One is leg speed, and two is versatility, in that he can play any part of the ground.

“And he’s been in the leadership group at Myrtleford over the last 3-4 years.

“It’s an exciting signing, and I know he’s pretty pumped about it and ready to get going.”

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LOCAL: WELCOME & FAREWELL

Minchin, who is also expected to be part of Geelong’s VFL squad, spent 2021-22 with Glenelg, making six senior appearances.

He played nine games at Frankston this year and was part of Vermont’s grand final team in the strong Eastern League.

“A real competitor; a nice size; a cracking fella,” Rayner said.

“He’s someone we specifically targeted. A recruiting priority was to add another big to our group.

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“With the retirement of Nick Nott and the continued development of Sam Christensen, it’s great to be able to secure another big man.”

Rayner said St Mary’s is no longer actively pursuing recruits, instead backing in the emergence of players from its premiership-winning reserves team and AFL Barwon Division 1 under-18 grand final squad.

“We’ll sit tight now,” he said. “We had two priorities – one was a ruckman, and one was leg speed – and we’ve fulfilled that.

“Retention’s been good; we’ve got plenty of young guys there that are deserved of, and ready to be provided, an opportunity.”

St Mary’s has also confirmed the return of premiership star Zak Sherman.

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Sherman, who played in the Saints 2019 and 2022 flags, spent the majority of this year overseas.

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