Josh Garden digs in with Magpies
FORMER Across The Waves and Wide Bay halfback Josh Garden will forgo the opportunity to play in England next year, instead committing to Easts Magpies for the 2010 season.
The recruit will join Matt Tanner and AJ Evans at the club, forming an exciting combination that could propel them into premiership contention.
It is the major reason Garden leant toward Easts, but there were other factors that contributed to his decision to steer clear of the mother country.
“Their pints are too big. I can’t drink them fast enough, it’s hard to keep up,” he joked.
“But seriously, I’m excited and pretty happy to be playing alongside Matty and AJ, as well as Ricky and Willy Nagas. If our full squad comes together we could have ourselves a very good side.
“Before this, I’ve only played with him in rep sides and it’s something I really enjoyed.”
It will be Garden’s first full Australian season in more than two years, after plying his trade in Bradford and Leeds.
“I was playing some good footy over there, and had the opportunity to go back again about a month ago, but sort of thought I’d rather have a summer in Australia instead,” he said.
Garden is the Magpies’ major signing, although they have also retained the services of hard-running second rower Shaun Swift and Andrew Mason.
Easts finished third on the ladder behind Isis Devils and Brothers last season, but were bundled out by the red-hot Wallaroos in the first week of finals.
Wallaroos went on to upset Brothers 40-38 in the decider, and Tanner sees no reason his Magpies could be that team in 2010.
“The squad we have is capable, hopefully everyone turns up for pre-season in the new year and is ready to go,” he said.
They remain without a coach for the time being, with incumbent John Moore no certainty to remain in the job.
A decision is expected to be made within a week, but either way Garden and Tanner are looking forward to hitting the park.
“Whoever gets the job doesn’t really concern me. I’m just looking forward to running inside Joshy and doing some damage,” Tanner said.
Last year’s captain, Jim Scott, is unlikely to return, leaving the position open.
“I’ll put my hand up for it. It’s something I’d enjoy doing and if I got the nod I wouldn’t let the boys down,” Tanner said.
“Obviously that’s up to the coach to decide but I’m excited to at least form part of the leadership group.”