The Tumut Blues will again call on Tumbarumba footballers Matthew Byatt and Jordan Anderson as they prepare for the 2021 Group 9 season.
In a testament to their worth to the Blues, the former Greens were signed, sealed and delivered prior to Christmas.
Tumut president, Bryan Black, said it was important to get both players on board.
“They are both important in our plans for next season and the guys (Zac Masters and Lachlan Bristow) were keen to get them back on board,” Black said.
Anderson has played many inspirational performances for the Blues, leading the club to a drought-breaking premiership in 2019, and a grand final appearance in 2020.
“Well Jordy’s signing is especially important. He is a halfback and he has been here for a couple of years,” Black said.
“The boys feed off him, everyone likes his style, he plays well above his weight and he is well suited to Tumut footy.”
Byatt saw limited minutes in 2020, and had his year impacted by a mid-season shoulder injury, but the Blues plan on utilising him more next season.
“We were pretty blessed last year with Jed (Pearce) coming back and Fenny (Michael Fenn) signing on, and also having Bargy (Matt Byatt) there,” Black said.
“I think the boys are going to try and give him greater involvement and get him fitter for another big year.”
Black said he would be happy to see more Tumbarumba products make their way down the mountain to play for Tumut.
“With Tumba playing in the (Tumut Pub) 9s, it is the hope we bring more players to Tumut and with Jordy and Barge playing there, they have that opportunity to join them,” Black said.
Byatt agreed with Black, and suggested Tumut would be a good pathway for Tumbarumba footballers looking for an opportunity to play in the strong Group 9 competition.
“There definitely are pathways for sure, there’s some good young players in Tumba and hopefully they want to play in Group 9 when they’re old enough,” Byatt said.
“It’s a good, tough comp and that’s where you want to be, to test yourself against the best players and I think there’s plenty in Group 9 that’s for sure.
“Tumut’s a really good club, they have a great committee, great coaches, so for sure, I would recommend them.”
Byatt was looking forward to playing alongside Anderson in 2021, with the pair developing a strong friendship in recent seasons.
“It’s really good to be playing with Jordy next season; I’ve known him for a while now, so we’re pretty close and he is a good player to have by your side on the field,” Byatt said.
The big front rower said the Blues had a point to prove heading into 2021, after losing the Group 9 grand final to the Gundagai Tigers.
“It was devastating the way we finished off the season last year, we were the best team through the regular season and to finish off like we did in the final, it hurt the boys,” Byatt said.
“I definitely think we will be up there again this year for sure.”
As far as preparing for 2021, Byatt is working on getting fit and preparing to play bigger minutes and potentially run on as a starting front rower.
“I just have to train hard through the preseason (to) get myself ready and hopefully get done what Hook (Lachlan Bristow) and Zac (Masters) want,” Byatt said.
“I’ll do the best I can and hopefully help the team out.”
Anderson extended his thanks to the Blues after being re-signed, with the Riverina representative playmaker having enjoyed his time at Tumut.
“I feel very grateful that Tumut have signed me again. It’s a great club and I’ve really enjoyed playing for them,” Anderson said.
“It’s close to home and they have really looked after me, so it means a lot.”
As far as preparations for next season, Anderson didn’t think the Blues needed to change much after featuring in two consecutive Group 9 grand finals.
“We don’t need to change anything; it’s obviously worked the last two years. We were just unlucky on the grand final day and got out played,” Anderson said.
The Tumbarumba duo will join their Tumut teammates early next year when preseason officially begins.