Werribee has made its first mid-season list change of 2018, adding Northern Territory Thunder premiership player Julian Lockwood to its primary squad of 45.
The 198cm key-position utility has been elevated in place of ruckman Nick Nott, who has been placed on the long-term injury list.
While not initially part of Werribee’s supplementary list, Lockwood has been training at Avalon Airport Oval over the past month, having made the return to Victoria earlier this year to begin playing with Gippsland Football League side Leongatha.
The 27-year-old said he was excited to officially sign on as part of the 2018 playing group after what has been a whirlwind few weeks.
“It’s really good,” Lockwood said. “It’s been a slow start, but I’m ripping in now.
“It was tough at the start with everyone zinging around in form midseason, but I’m easing into it, starting to know everyone’s names, and finding a bit of touch playing down at Leongatha.
“I’ve got a few games under my belt, so I’m starting to find that match fitness and feeling comfortable here now.
“I’m now just looking to get that VFL berth and get that first game out of the way. I’m hopeful I can then make an impact and contribute and we can try to get some wins on the board.”
Originally from Maldon in regional Victoria, Lockwood played 69 games and kicked 29 goals for the Thunder from 2012 to 2016.
Initially recruited as a key defender, he proved most influential up north as a ruckman and key forward, playing a crucial role in the Thunder’s successful 2015 NEAFL premiership campaign.
More recently, he returned to his original Top End side, Nightcliff, which he helped steer to successive Northern Territory Football League preliminary finals.
Werribee recruiting manager Ange Cristoforo first identified Lockwood as a key-position prospect following the 2017 season and said it was pleasing he now had the chance to sign on at Avalon Airport Oval midyear.
“It’s been a long campaign to get him here,” Cristoforo said.
“We wanted to get him here over Christmas time, but he had commitments to Nightcliff. With Nick going down, there’s now a huge opportunity for him, so there’s a real silver lining there.
“As a forward-ruck, he’s athletic and mobile, and he can play a little bit in defence, so he’s got a bit of an engine.
“He can take a grab and can kick goals, so he’s got a bit of everything about him for 198cm.
“He also comes with great experience, so that’s perfect for us.”
Werribee senior coach John Lamont said his side will look to utilise Lockwood as a like-for-like replacement for Nott who can play on the ball as well as having an impact in front of goal.
“Julian’s opportunity has come off the back of that really unfortunate injury to Nick, who was developing really well as our second ruck,” said Lamont.
“He’ll play forward as well, but he’ll primarily play ruck, which will free Jack Berry up to play forward along with Josh Porter.”
“His role will be to compete hard in the ruck and to create contests and fall-of-the-ball opportunities for our small players when he goes forward, and we’re hopeful he can have a really positive impact.”