Cowra coach Steve Sutton said the Magpies have “potential” to host this year’s Group 10 grand final after luring Jeremy Gordon back to the black and white.
Gordon put pen to paper on Monday afternoon and will soon be released by his former club Bathurst Panthers.
The 31-year-old reunites with Sutton after the pair played pivotal roles in the club’s hugely successful 2014 campaign – a year the club hosted its first Group 10 grand final since 1996.
He’s since had a three-season stint at Panthers, his outstanding 2016 season resulting in Gordon picking up the Group 10 player of the year gong.
It’s a massive coup for the Magpies who have already bolstered its ranks with a string of signings, and it completes an incredible turn around after the club struggled to form a committee and secure a coach late last year.
“He [Gordon] approached me last week to see if he was too late. They [Panthers] will release him and he’ll be playing in the black and white this season,” Steve Sutton explained.
“It’s a combination of the 2014 season, knowing each other since he was 17, we get along really well and he wants to play under me,” Sutton said.
While Gordon is Cowra’s biggest signing, Sutton quickly ensured last year’s Group 10 reserve grade player of the year, and Cowra’s 2018 halfback, Joe Bugg will be calling the shots on-field.
“We have an idea of how we want to play. It’s Joey’s team and I want him to run the side with Jeremy being the X-factor at five-eighth,” Sutton said.
“He [Gordon] can pick and choose when he wants to inject his potency and creativity.
“On his day he’s the best player in the competition. He was the Group 10 player of the year two seasons ago so if he finds that form again we could potentially host another grand final.”
The Magpies also picked up Bradyn Cassidy from Bathurst Panthers to complete an incredible summer of transfers.
The Canowindra Tigers junior was a part of the Cowra Magpies under 18s grand final side in 2014.
He’s spent the past two seasons with the Panthers.
“I wanted Bradyn back to play fullback. We were looking light there. I’m expecting big things from him and he’s a local junior,” Sutton said.
The Magpies now loom as a genuine contender this season with Sutton declaring “anything less than the semi-finals” a failure.
He’s placing an emphasis on defence this preseason as point scoring doesn’t appear to be a concern.
“It’s unbelievable how it’s fallen into place. When I took on the job someone asked me how I think we’ll go and I said we’ll be competitive and might scrape into the five.
“Anything less than the semi-finals will be a failure.
“We’ll take a while to gel but there’s plenty of talent and point scorers. Stopping tries has been the problem in the past for Cowra.”
While Gordon and Bugg fill the halves roles in 2018, Cassidy will play fullback in place of Cameron Picker, John will be at hooker, Rainbow will bolster the second-row and Ingram will either start in the front-row or be injected from the bench.
Blake Tidswell will remain in the front-row, Ronald Lawrence is expected to shift from front-row to lock and Mitch Browne will look to continue his development in the second-row.
The final make-up of Cowra’s backline is yet to be locked in.