Werribee has continued to tap into the rich vein of talent in Victoria’s northeast by signing former Murray Bushrangers teammates Hudson Garoni and Tom Boyd for season 2019.
The pair have become the latest in a long line of Bushrangers graduates to don the “big W”, landing at Avalon Airport Oval on the back of stellar 2018 campaigns that saw both touted as potential AFL draft prospects.
A member of last year’s AFL Academy Squad and Vic Country side, key forward Garoni netted 38 goals from his 15 games with the Bushrangers, which included impressive hauls of eight and seven against the Sandringham Dragons and Dandenong Stingrays respectively.
It saw him finish as leading goalkicker and equal fifth in the best-and-fairest count for his side and earn a spot at centre half-forward in the TAC Cup Team of the Year.
The 18-year-old Wodonga product – already an imposing figure at 195cm and 91kg – said he hadn’t initially planned a move to Melbourne after not being picked up in the draft but was convinced otherwise after speaking with new senior coach Mark Williams.
“It’s been very exciting,” Garoni said of his experience at Werribee so far.
“I was firstly going to stay home, but after speaking with 'Choco' and the group, I felt I had no choice but to come down here.
“The boys have been really good so far, and the club has been really welcoming, so I definitely think I made the right choice.”
Boyd also had a big year with the Bushrangers, playing all 16 games and finishing among his side’s best on three occasions.
However, it didn’t stop him from also playing three games with Greater Western Sydney’s NEAFL side before returning to local club Nathalia to claim a second straight Murray Football League premiership medal.
The 20-year-old swingman said Werribee provided an ideal environment for a footballer from regional Victoria looking to step up to the next level and test themselves in the VFL.
“It’s been a bit of a change for me, coming out from country Victoria, but because Werribee has that bit more of a country vibe and there are a few more country boys here, it was definitely more appealing for me than some other of the other VFL clubs,” Boyd said.
“The new facilities are obviously elite as well, and all the boys are great, so it all played a role in my decision to come here.”
Werribee Football Operations Manager Stuart Balloch said the club had already earmarked both Garoni and Boyd as potential 23rd player candidates in the first half of the season.
“As a key forward, Hudson is going to get some really good opportunities in the early part of the year, so it’s going to be interesting to see how he progresses,” Balloch said.
“Tom is a utility-type player who can play in multiple positions, and someone who we see as similar to Hudson in that he’ll really have some opportunity to grow and flourish within our VFL program.”
WERRIBEE 2019 SIGNINGS