Ballarat Football League reigning premier Bacchus Marsh has lured Ryley Stuhldreier back to the fold.
The former star junior returns to his home club after two years with South Barwon in the Geelong Football League.
He was also a member of Geelong’s VFL development squad for the two seasons.
Stuhldreier said he was looking forward to reuniting with mates he had played with throughout his junior days with the Cobras.
He said hopefully he could contribute to another flag.
Stuhldreier said he first began harbouring the thought of returning to Bacchus Marsh with five or six rounds out from the end of last season.
He said he had had mixed emotions watching the Cobras’ premiership run.
While delighted to see them land their first BFL flag, he said “it killed me” not being part of it.
Stuhldreier, who was a Vic Country and all-Australian under-15 schoolboy, and Vic Metro under-16 representative, made his BFL senior debut in 2013 while still playing under-18.5s and on the Western Jets list in the TAC Cup.
He said his move to South Barwon had coincided with university studies in Geelong.
He is now studying in Melbourne and back living in Bacchus Marsh.
Stuhldreier said everything had fallen into place to allow the move back the Cobras and could not wait line up alongside best mate Kane White and other former teammates.
Bacchus Marsh coach Travis Hodgson said Stuhldreier was a strong-bodied onballer who would add a great deal to an already strong midfield.
He said Stuhldreier would also be a real weapon inside 50m.
“As well as a quality player, it’s great to get an outstanding young man, who was a Marsh junior and is highly respected in our playing group.
“He’s a ripper,” Hodgson said.
Stuhldreier’s time with South Barwood was not all clear sailing.
He was fortunate to escape reconstruction surgery after tearing medial land anterior cruciate ligaments in 2015, when he missed about half the season.
He returned this year to play every game and is confident that knee issue is now well behind him.
Stuhldreier joins new assistant Scott Sherlock from VFL side Werribee as key signings for Bacchus Marsh.
The Cobras’ only major loss to date is leading goalkicker Damian Cupido, who has moved to Bairnsdale.