Warrnambool has received a boost just weeks out from round one, with four new recruits fresh off seasons in the Northern Territory Football League set to join the club in coming days.
South Australian Nick Hooker joins the Hampden league club after a season with Tiwi Bombers, while three Palmerston players - Victorian Heath Morgan-Morris and Northern Territory mates Ryan Warfe and Steven Lampton - will also relocate to play for the Reid Oval-based club.
First-year Blues coach Dan O'Keefe praised the club's recruiting group for their work to land the quartet, with a former AFL player's character reference helping to seal the deal on both sides.
"The recruitment group we have... they've done a great job of sourcing a number of connections to be able to get to these guys," the former VFL coach said. "One of the connections is through Palmerston footy club in the NT and the great thing is Eddie Betts had a fair bit to do with Palmerston.
"I spoke to Eddie about those couple guys and he gave them a great character reference... and footy reference as well."
O'Keefe said Hooker, who grew up playing at Central District in the SAFNL as a junior, had also come with great reports.
"We were actually watching a little bit of the Palmerston boys on vision and there was this big long left footer that played for Tiwi Bombers against the Palmertson boys," O'Keefe said. "He just caught our eye, we chased him regularly and ended up getting him across the line."
O'Keefe said Hooker, who will play in a practice match for Warrnambool on Saturday, would be utilised as a strong, mid-sized defender.
"He's about 23 so he brings a bit of experience to the group and somewhat led the Tiwi Bombers from a maturity point of view," he said.
The coach said Morgan-Morris was an "exciting" forward, who could go through the midfield.
"He's mid-size again but strongly built, played a lot of forward in the past but is really courageous and strong over the footy," O'Keefe said.
O'Keefe said he felt Warfe was more of an utility, with strong running capacity, though could also play in a lock-down defender role.
Meanwhile, Lampton, who had originally been linked to Camperdown, is a wing-half-forward, with the Blues keen to use him as a dangerous forward.
While the recruits will come in fit and ready to go after a summer of football in Darwin, O'Keefe expects them to take some time to adapt to how both Warrnambool and the league play.
"They're going to have 18 players around them that are going to be able to help them," he said. "And that's one of the things we've worked on, being a good teammate. I'm really excited to get these boys on board, not just in regards to what they bring on-field but the most exciting part is what they can bring culturally. That will be more-so how we wrap our arms around these lads that are all coming from interstate and relocating down here to live.
"That's going to be a really cool, and exciting, challenge to work through but one that I'm sure will reap benefits."
Warrnambool play Colac in a practice match at Deakin University on Saturday from 1pm.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.