Wangaratta Rovers 'gun-shy' after profile recruits flop

Wangaratta Rovers' vice-captain Michael Clark is one of a number of the club's best players currently out with injury.
Wangaratta Rovers' vice-captain Michael Clark is one of a number of the club's best players currently out with injury.

Wangaratta Rovers’ president Andrew Smith admits the club is wary about big-name recruits after a failed experiment with three former AFL players in 2014.

The no-name Hawks suffered the biggest loss in club history on Sunday, a 170-point thrashing against Wangaratta.

But in a wide-ranging discussion on the club’s woes, Smith said:

  • volunteers from clubs are under enormous pressure and
  • money isn’t the issue to recruit profile players

Rovers had tremendous off-field success and made a preliminary final with former Swans’ premiership forward Barry Hall in 2012, but the recruitment of Daniel Archer, James Mulligan and Jarrad Boumann flopped.

Smith was quizzed if the club deliberately moved away from that thinking.

“Yes ... because that experiment didn’t work so well, but that’s not to say that if you can get the right people to top up, it would be an excellent way to go forward,” he said.

Rovers went into last Saturday’s round nine with the equal lowest player points, joining the undefeated Albury on 26.

Smith was asked if the club could afford the superstar players.

“That’s probably doable, (but) that’s not really the problem,” he said.

“It gets back to volunteers, money doesn’t come in the door.

“Volunteers are under pressure, football is in trouble generally.

“I don’t know what the answer is. Where the people who sit above us, whether it be Ovens and Murray or VCFL (AFL Victoria), there’s some brainstorming that’s going to have to happen around the table.”

Like the rest of the bottom clubs, Rovers can’t afford injuries and they’re currently missing a third of their starting lineup.

“There’s six key players out which would make a little bit of a difference,” he said.

Smith also spoke about an signing an ‘outside’ coach after a run of internal appointments.

“I’m not sure that’s the answer,” he said.

“We’ve … been very close with outsiders but it’s a big effort to relocate when talking family, kids, school, jobs.

“That’s why, I suppose, a locally-based option has always been easier filled.”

The winless Rovers appear wooden spoon-bound.

“Don’t worry, Rovers will still be around,” Smith vowed.