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YARRAWONGA co-coach Chris Kennedy has defended the club’s decision to recruit Brad Ottens after Geelong’s three-time premiership star came to terms with the Pigeons yesterday.
The reigning premier now boasts eight players who were once on AFL lists but has drawn plenty of criticism for it.
Comments yesterday on social media, as well as on The Border Mail’s website, labelled the Pigeons as greedy and suggested they were ruining the competition with their financial muscle.
A handful of Ovens and Murray club’s were also critical of the move but refused to go on record.
But Kennedy dismissed those concerns.
“It’s funny when people say that,” he said.
“We had four guys — Beau Seymour, Matt Irvine, Ricky Barnes and Brandon Symes — play in the senior flag last year who played in the reserves’ premiership the year before.
“We’ll be playing the kids, again.
“Internally, the young blokes are really driven and are excited to have these guys around the club.
“I’m really keen to keep developing Beau Seymour and Connor Hargreaves and I’m excited for them to have a guy with Brad’s experience involved.
“They’ll learn a lot from him.”
Kennedy said the club — which lost three consecutive grand finals to Albury before finally breaking through last year — made no apology about its quest for success.
“As a club we’re very driven,” Kennedy said.
“We finished runner-up three years in a row but we didn’t complain about Albury.
“We did what we had to do to get better and it took a lot to do that.
“And we’ll be doing what we can to fight to stay there.”
Kennedy, who guided the Pigeons to their fourth flag alongside Drew Barnes last season, said he hoped the club’s high profile had helped other teams in the league attract players.
“Stuff like this has a lot of people outside the area talking about the competition,” he said.
“That can only be a good thing.
“Hopefully, it helps every club recruit players.
“Players identify with big names and the more players from the AFL that come to the league, the more players that will identify it.”
The Pigeons remain unsure how many games Ottens will play this season but said the 245-game AFL veteran would be used in the ruck when he played.
“Losing Symes was a blow but our ruck stocks are now looking pretty healthy,” Kennedy said.
“We’ve got Hargreaves and Seymour, as well as Steve McKee.
“Opportunities will still be there.”
Meanwhile, star Pigeon Brendan Fevola had his first official training run for the year with a handful of his teammates at Gosch’s paddock in Melbourne on Tuesday night.