A couple of early Christmas presents have landed under the tree at Burdoo Reserve, with Grovedale unveiling two new signings for the 2024 season.
The Tigers have confirmed the arrival of Werribee VFL hopeful Ajoung Maker and former Western Bulldogs NGA member Jas Long.
A talented junior basketball, 200cm Maker made a move to Australian Rules football two years ago and played nine senior games with Western Region club Yarraville-Seddon.
Grovedale coach Jacob Spolding says Maker is training with Werribee in the hope of securing a list spot for 2024.
“He’s already shown enough to be on Werribee’s radar,” Spolding said.
“We’re sure we can help him develop his footy as much as he can help us as 200cm forward/ruck.
“We’ve got three or four boys training down at Werribee, and through those boys and the connections we’ve had, they sent us his name and said he was looking for a home club.
“We made contact, he came down (Tuesday), and we met him.”
As well as being on the Bulldogs’ radar, Long, currently playing in the Northern Territory with Palmerston, has been part of the GWV Rebels’ Talent League squad.
The 189cm midfielder/forward won Warrnambool’s under-18 best-and-fairest in 2022 and represented the Hampden League.
“He’s moved down here for uni,” Spolding said. “He reached out to us and said, “I’m moving down”.
“Hopefully, he can add something to us in the forward half of the ground.”
The signing of Maker and Jones follows the previously announced returns of Darby Henderson, Cooper Whyte and 2021 GFNL Rookie of the Year Tom Gillett.
Henderson, who will play VFL at Williamstown in 2024, had Goulburn Valley League premier Echuca as his interchange club this year.
Whyte has signed with Werribee after being delisted following one AFL game at Geelong and will play at Grovedale when not required at VFL level.
Gillett played in the West Australian Goldfields this year, where he represented WA Country.
He underwent minor ankle surgery last week and should be back in full training by mid-February.
“He’s just had a tidy-up on his ankle, but that was planned,” Spolding said.
“He will look to start with the main group the second week of February if everything tracks as planned.”
Grovedale has March practice matches scheduled against Northern League club Old Paradians and Point Cook Centrals from the Western Region before hosting 2023 runner-up South Barwon for the John Nankervis Shield on April 13 to open the new season.
Meanwhile, Bell Park has unveiled former Bendigo Pioneers Jake Nihill and Eli Pearce as their latest recruits.
Nihill, a 197cm utility, played 26 Talent League games across three seasons while also making five senior appearances this year for Bendigo League club Sandhurst.
Pearce is from White Hills in the Heathcote and District League. He played seven games at senior level while also making 11 appearances for the Pioneers.