COROWA-Rutherglen has won a tug of war with Yarrawonga to sign former Victorian Amateurs star Alastair Austin.
Austin, 24, joins the Roos after attracting the attention of several Border clubs since deciding to return from Melbourne.
The athletic key defender, from Oaklands, is a former state representative and was one of the VAFA’s best against the likes of North Albury champion Daniel Leslie and Morris medallist Jamie Allan in the annual VAFA v VCFL game in 2011.
Austin, who spent four years in the amateurs at University Blues, had been training at John Foord Oval.
He said the training helped convince him to join the Roos as they look to climb the ladder after last year narrowly avoiding the wooden spoon.
“It should be a good challenge,” Austin said.
“It seems like a good club heading in the right direction.
“I’ve got a few mates there and I really like the country feel of the place.”
Austin played six games for the Billabong Crows in the Hume league last season before heading overseas.
He was in the Crows’ best players in all but one of those games.
“I’m back on the farm this year and looking forward to it,” Austin said.
“The footy is a bit different than Melbourne — the grounds are a bit bigger here, and it’s more of a direct style.”
The Roos have enjoyed a fruitful off-season, with Austin’s arrival capping a string of quality signings.
After appointing former Adelaide player Bryce Campbell as coach in August, Corowa-Rutherglen added talented Rochester pair Luke Gestier and James Brain to its ranks.
Campbell, who has played more than 100 SANFL games, said the club had opted for quality, over quantity, when targeting recruits.
“We have lacked key position players and so that’s something we’ve really targeted,” Campbell said.
“We’ve looked for guys who will add something to the existing group.
“Alastair seems a quality person and, even at his age, will add a bit of experience to our young group.”
Despite the promising start to life as coach, Campbell isn’t resting on his laurels.
“We’re still a long way from where we want to get to,” he said.
“We are still that far away from the top teams.
“We’ve got a lot of improving to do.”
The Roos started training last night.