NEWBRIDGE has added a mix of class and experience in its recruiting as it looks to make a leap in the Loddon Valley league next season.
Among the new faces for the Maroons, who won four games and finished seventh this year, are brothers Ed and Jono Aujard.
"Jono will add some real class around the footy, which is something we were lacking this year," Newbridge co-coach Sam Gale said this week.
"He has played a bit of Goulburn Valley footy (with Mansfield) and TAC Cup (with the Oakleigh Chargers) and will play through the middle of the ground.
"His brother, Ed, is still fairly young; he's about six-foot-three and fairly athletic and we see him playing a mix of centre half-forward and centre half-back.
"They have both played the majority of their footy in the Amateurs, but went up to Murrabit and played this year and we're rapt to have them both on board with us."
Fellow signing Matt McArthur provides the Maroons with both leadership and experience.
McArthur has played more than 200 senior games and is coming off back-to-back premierships with Powelltown in the Outer East Football League.
He has also played inter-league football for Colac District while playing with Simpson in 2018.
"Matt is around the six-foot-two mark and he will play on-ball, but he can also play in the backline as well," Gale said.
"He's played some inter-league football with Colac District and played a mix of half-back, full-back and midfield with Powelltown, but we see him as an on-baller with us.
"Our talls were pretty strong already, so we needed to add in some more through the midfield, which has been a focus."
Also joining Newbridge in 2024 is Jackson Hufer from Mount Pleasant, where he played five senior games this year.
"Jackson is another player around that six-foot-three mark who will play a mix of half-forward and half-back," Gale said.
"He's still fairly young and athletic, so he will be a good pick-up.
"And we've also got Ricky Cathie coming back to the club from Wandella. He will be our back-up ruckman to Wil Copland and will add a bit of grunt around the ball."
As well as the five new recruits the Maroons have signed, their player retention has also been good, re-signing nine of their top 10 from this year's best and fairest.
The only player from the top-10 not to re-sign for 2024 is Dylan Stevens, who is headed back to Campbells Creek in the Maryborough-Castlemaine District league.
The Maroons - who are also being co-coached by Daniel Smith - are looking forward to having the use of their Riverside Park home ground for the full year in 2024.
Following last October's flooding in Newbridge the Maroons were unable to use Riverside Park for their pre-season training and had to play their first eight games of the year away.
"It was a challenging year... Smithy and I being new coaches came in and tried to instill a gameplan that may have been a bit advanced and then it culminated with not playing at home for the first half of the year," Gale said.
"We simplified the gameplan and were much more competitive in the second half of the year. Being able to have that continuity next season of having our home ground available all year is going to make a massive difference."
Meanwhile, elsewhere in the LVFNL, Bears Lagoon-Serpentine has added another player from a rival club.
Hard-nut midfielder Ross Turner is crossing to the Bears from Mitiamo, where he was runner-up in this year's best and fairest.
"Ross is a versatile player with a wealth of experience and we are confident that he will make a significant contribution to our team's success," the Bears said in announcing the signing of Turner.
"Many of our players will be thrilled to have him as a team-mate, rather than a competitor next year."
As well as Turner from Mitiamo, the Bears have also signed Tyler Miles from Maiden Gully YCW.