Dennington's aim of rising up the Warrnambool and District league ladder has received a boost with the club signing two key-position players and a reliable defender.
Dogs coach Ben Thornton is thrilled former Nirranda players Inoke 'Knox' Ratu (ruckman) and Daniel Threlfall (defender) are on board for season 2022.
Centre half-forward Josh Lock has also returned to the Kennel after a break from footy.
The 25-year-old played all his juniors at Dennington as well as about five years at senior level before his time away from the field.
His last full season was in 2015. He didn't play in the Dogs' premiership side that year.
He said he'd focused on work and study in recent years but was now ready to commit 100 per cent to playing.
"I played all my other footy here when I was a bit younger and played seniors but a bit of work and stuff got in the way so I had a couple of years off and had a little fella earlier in the year so the time is right now to come back to it and get stuck into next year," he said.
"I've got a bit more time on my hands."
Lock and his partner Rachael had their first child, Xander, this year. He works as a hospital theatre technician.
The recruit is excited about the prospect of playing alongside fellow big man, Ratu.
"I played in the ruck (when I last played) hopefully this year I'll be able to push up more and play in the forward line and with Knoxy signing as well, he'll take all the ruck duties, hopefully," he said.
"When I was younger playing seniors and stuff and I was always the tallest bloke, I was automatically the ruckman.
"Obviously Knoxy's a ruckman, he obviously knows what he's doing, so it would be good to learn off him as well."
Lock had a promising junior career.
"I played interleague footy in under 14s and under 16s, made the Hampden school boys' team in under 16s and played for Ballarat Rebels in under 16s," he said.
He also did a couple of pre-seasons with the Rebels' under 18 squad.
Thornton said it was exciting to have the trio commit to 2022 so early.
"Knoxy will ruck, he'll help Reggie Barling out, that's one we're really excited about, it's a massive boost," he said.
"Reggie rucked a lot of the time last year.
"So Knoxy will ruck and go through the forward line.
"Threlfall, he'll play half-back and on-ball, he's a tough player, an in-and-under sort of bloke, he'll be enormous for us, that mature head and a bit of leadership."
The first-year playing-coach said he identified the group needed more experience after its winless season.
"It was something that we looked at pretty early, the gaps we needed to fill," Thornton said.
"We still want to go with that youth, it was jumping in early and getting onto as many people as we could to try grab those four or five older heads around the ground just helping out wherever they are."
Thornton, a Dennington junior, has played with both Lock and Ratu before.
Thornton and Ratu played together at South Warrnambool in the Hampden league.
The coach explained Threlfall knows club president Anthony Dowd and he recently moved to Dennington.
The Dogs mentor, who has re-signed as playing coach, hinted there were potentially more recruits to come.
"It's been good to have lots of people show interest in coming to the footy club and hopefully over the next couple of weeks we can announce a few more signings, which would be really exciting," he said.
He said the interest was encouraging for the current playing group.
"We didn't get the results we wanted (this year), we didn't win a game but to have so many people interested in coming on board and helping us out, it's enormous and shows what the boys have done throughout the year," he said.
He noted he had retained just about all of his 2021 list.
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