Beaufort has acquired the services of Ballarat Swans onballer Tom Stapleton for the 2017 Central Highlands Football League season.
In a coup for the Crows, the toll will be equally felt at the Swans as the young group loses one of its key play makers.
Stapleton has played all of his football at Ballarat, but some strong connections with Beaufort proved the catalyst in the move.
Beaufort football manager Phil Crouch expected Stapleton to play across half-back and float into the midfield to utilize his two key attributes – precise ball-use and strength in the contest.
“I think we need a bit more drive off half-back, someone who can use the footy pretty well – he’ll do that,” Crouch said.
“With the connections he’s got, friendships with a lot of our boys, it seemed a pretty good fit.
“When it gets a bit wet during the middle of winter, he’s a nice strong body to have over the ball. Which I think on those wet days he’ll be a pretty good player as well as his great skill level. Plus if he goes into the midfield - we’ve got guys that are very good in the contested situation - but we were a bit on the small side, Stapes (Stapleton) should help us there.”
Stapleton will play under new Beaufort coach Rohan Brown, who takes the reins after two years as assistant coach following the Crows’ succession plan.
The club believes it still has a bit of work to do in order to press beyond its first-final exits of the past two seasons and is hopeful that Stapleton, along with its promising young talent which saw Beaufort take out the under-18 premiership, can take it deeper into September.
“He’s been really loyal to Ballarat but I think he’s just after a change of scenery and to reinvigorate his footy. With the new points system, we’re probably looking at just a couple of recruits.
“We’ve still got a fair way to go to try and push up the ladder and go deeper into finals, but that’s our challenge, which we haven’t been able to do the last couple of years.
“Our juniors won the flag last year so we expect there will be two or three that might come up and help us as well. We’ll have a fair bit of improvement from within, we’ve got a fairly young group.”