By Beth Newman
Labrador’s forward line will look a lot more menacing in 2015, with the signing of Southport key forward, Josh Baxter.
The 28 year-old who has played at the Sharks for the past four years, will fill a major void in the Tigers’ attack.
Baxter said the difficulty balancing work, family and football was a major factor in his decision to play in the QAFL.
“My work commitments have really stepped up over the last six months with the opportunity I’ve been given it’s just don’t reckon I’d be able to fit it all in,” he said.
“If you have everything too loaded up, something’s going to suffer, whether it is the girlfriend, or being under the pump at work or footy full time, mixing life in with that lot doesn’t leave much time for yourself.”
The 2013 NEAFL Northern Conference representative player kicked 42 goals in 16 games for the Sharks this season to finish in the league’s top 10 goal kickers and will bolster the Labrador forward line.
Baxter watched the Tigers’ finals campaign last season and said playing in front of a healthy local crowd was appealing.
“With the Sharks, there are a lot of young blokes and guys picked up from the WAFL or the SANFL there’s not really that family community feeling,” he said.
“Labrador offers that and the crowds were good, I miss playing in front of a crowd.”
Baxter took up a mentoring role in his time at the Sharks, and said if the chance came up again, he would be keen to help some of the side’s younger players.
“If the opportunity came up, I’d be keen to but right now, I’m just signed as a player,” he said.
“But I don’t want to go in there and step on anyone’s toes …I just want to help them go a little bit better than last year.
“One thing I did see is they had no real structure or leader out there (in the forward line), so I’d like to help in that aspect and get a little bit more organisation down there.
The club’s leading goal kicker for the season. Simon Seddon, will not be in the yellow and black in 2015, heading back to Victoria.
Seddon booted 55 goals this season, with Nick Stockdale the next best on 34 and Jye warren third on 28 and Labrador will be looking for a more even spread next season, with the recruitment of Baxter likely to help that.
Southport player, Adam Clarke, will join brother, Mat, at the Tigers while former Palm Beach forward, Bryce Perry-Bolt, will also add to their forward ranks.
The Tigers have picked up a couple of handy interstate recruits as well, with Goulburn Valley Football League trio, Ash Hockey, Jayden Young and Tom Thorsen coming north.
Hockey and Thorsen are both midfielders, while 2012 Tatura premiership player, Young, has shown ability to play as either a key position player or midfielder.
Labrador has lost two players from its, with work commitments taking reliable defender, Kieran Daley, to Cairns.
The Tigers have been busy in the off-season and will likely add a few more names to their list in the coming weeks, in a bid to go one better than their runner-up finish this season.