Group 20 rugby league
JARROD Williams has turned down a second approach this year to join his brother James at Tullibigeal-Lakes United, instead choosing to extend his contract with Yenda.
Recently crowned the club’s best and fairest player for 2013, the hard-working hooker has joined key players Kodie Charles and Tom Sellars in pledging his future to the Blueheelers.
Several clubs were in the hunt for Williams’ signature off the back of a career-best season, including the Sharks and his junior club, the Griffith Black and Whites, now led by former Canberra Raiders star David Milne.
But Williams told The Area News it was an easy decision to stick with Yenda and work towards avenging their heartbreaking preliminary final loss to Leeton.
“We’ve got a great side there, pretty much everyone will be staying on and the season ended in a bad way for us, so we’ve definitely got some unfinished business,” he said.
Williams said he was tempted to join premiers TLU and his brother but said the lure of building on his combinations with the likes Charles, Sellars and Ben Vitucci in the forward pack was too strong.
“I had probably my best year and a lot of it was down to the guys I was playing with out there,” he said.
“If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have had as good a season.”
Yenda secretary Sam Panarello said it was “imperative” the club secure Williams for next year given how many other Group 20 sides are making waves in the player market.
“Jarrod’s very strong, he hits hard, he’s very clever around that ruck area and is probably one of the best hookers in the group, if not the best,” he said.
“You’ve got to stay strong, because if you stay strong you attract players.
“When you’re talking to players who might want to join your club they always ask who’s staying and who’s going.
“We want to build our new era around him, Kodie and Ben, our front three.”
The Blueheelers have also re-signed playmaker David Rauluni, who Panarello described as one of the most underrated players in the competition, for next season.
“He’s another one where you watch the tapes and say wow,” he said. “On gameday you’d say, yeah, he had a good game. But watch the tapes and see how many tackles, how many times he follows the ball up - all those little, simple things.
“I think he’s matured as a man and a footballer and he can be one of the true greats of this comp in the next couple of years.”
Panarello said the Blueheelers were now looking to sign one or two more forwards to boost their depth, after revealing Ronnie Bamblett has joined the Bidgee Hurricanes.
Yenda’s Shannon Rupapere is currently scouting for prospective players at the annual Maori rugby league tournament this weekend in New Zealand.
“Losing Steve Richards last year showed we’re a bit short up front,” Panarello said.