Group 20 rugby league
TULLIBIGEAL-Lake Cargelligo United have recovered from the devastating loss of boom playmaker Dylan Hately to injury by signing journeyman James Williams.
The replacement halfback comes to the Sharks from Darlington Point-Coleambally and has previously played for the Waratahs Tigers and the Black and Whites.
The club was dealt a shattering blow in the lead-up to the semi-finals last season when Country under 18s representative Hately suffered cartilage and ligament damage that will take 12 months to recover from.
But Williams' signature helps ease the pressure off captain Jaden Kelly, who also takes the coaching reins following the departure of Anthony Chambeyron to Temora in Group 9.
"We've seen plenty of James so we're looking forward to bringing him to our club," president Colin Ward said.
"Week in, week out Jaden is targeted. Guys try to shut him down so hopefully with James in there it'll give him more freedom.
"It was a pretty big setback for us and for Dylan, but everything is on the mend.
"He probably wasn't going to be here anyway, but that's not the point he's a kid with a lot of potential.
"If he was on deck in the grand final it might have been closer."
TLU has also added steel to its forward pack by poaching experienced prop Brent Pike from Leeton.
Pike, a Group 20 and Riverina representative, was after a change of scenery and has found it at TLU, Ward said.
"He's been keen to come out to Lake for a while. He can play in a few positions," he said.
The Sharks have also convinced another former representative player, local product Michael Dodson, to return from Canberra and pull on TLU colours in 2013.
All up, Ward is confident the club has covered its losses and can take another stab at the Group 20 title this season.
"We're punching above our weight as per usual. I think we can go one better this year," he said.
"These guys we've signed are all very capable and we're also looking for a couple of imports to join us.
"It's pretty hard to compete with some of the other clubs financially, but we've got a very good community, support-wise.
"And we've got a bit of depth with our juniors after winning the 16s and 18s last season. We blood those guys regularly in the first-grade."