K rock Football

Former Saint joins Swans

South Barwon recruit Josh Saunders gets acquainted with his new home. (krockfootball.com.au Image/Al Packer)

JOSH Saunders says the chance to be part of South Barwon’s emergence from the GFL wilderness shaped his decision to sign with the Swans.

Saunders, who played 22 AFL matches in four seasons with St Kilda, has spent the last two years with Hampden league club South Warrnambool.

He is among a handful of quality signings second-year coach Dave Farrell hopes can take South further than this year first semi-final appearance.

“I hadn’t been following the GFL so much the last couple of years, and I had a catch up with a few of the boys on Friday,” Saunders, who played his junior football at Geelong Amateur while attending Geelong College, said.

“That was really exciting. They were all excited to get into it.

“A few of them didn’t think they were going to make finals last year and (they) did a really good job.

“So with a few signing on and a good pre-season, hopefully, we can go again.”

GFL: INS & OUTS

Saunders’ stint at South Warrnambool was interrupted by ruptured anterior cruciate ligament suffered early in his first season, but he admits it was a blessing in disguise for his football development.

“I probably took a step back, which is a bit different for me, but I was able to look at the game from a different perspective on the sidelines,” Saunders said.

“It was frustrating at times, but I was sort of looking at it and trying to think ‘when you are playing how can you help the boys when you are out there?’.

“It is obviously a different view from there, and you can get a bit more knowledge of how everything goes.

“They had a lot of young players down there as well, so for me, it was about taking a few under my wing and trying to develop them as players.

“It was a newer role for me in terms of leadership having come from a higher level and being down a bit lower, but it was exciting to help the young guys out at the club.”

Saunders joins Koroit’s Tyler Mulraney, former Geelong Falcon Doyle Madigan and Ocean Grove trio Andrew Jarvis, Matt Caldow and Jahd Anderson as arrivals at McDonald Reserve.

Add in the return from injury of captain Darcy Hansen, Ben Lusby and Mitch Rodd, and it’s no surprise there’s plenty of optimism at the Swans.

“The future is really, really exciting,” president Roger Blacksell said. “Everyone’s buzzing. People are asking me questions every day.

“I get phone calls asking me “who have we got? What’s happening?

“I got three calls today asking me when does pre-season start. We’ve got people actually wanting to watch pre-season.

“Two years ago, no one cared.”

Twitter: @tom_king79

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