QUEANBEYAN Tigers coach Kade Klemke believes new recruit Ben Fulford can fill the void left by the departure of small forward Brett Fruend. He just needs to get him out of the cricket nets long enough to prove it.
Fulford is one of a handful of new recruits at Dairy Farmers Park this year, joining fellow newcomers Beau Walker, Pat McCabe, David Smith and Alistair Jacka in Tigers colours.
The 18-year-old arrives at the club having made his senior grade debut in the Ovens and Murray League with North Albury last year, earning a Rising Star nomination in the process.
A talented all-round athlete, Fulford's journey from his home town of Albury to Queanbeyan has come via the unlikely route of the ACT Comets, Canberra's representative cricket side.
After earning selection in the Comets under-19s program late last year, Fulford's impending move to Canberra came to the attention of former North Albury teammate and current Tigers coach Kade Klemke.
"Kade was playing down with North Albury when I was in the juniors so when I was coming up to Canberra for cricket our manager down there passed on my number to him and it went from there," Fulford told The Queanbeyan Age.
"I knew of him down there, I'm not sure if he knew me though. It's a bit odd how it all works out that we've ended up playing together up here but hopefully I can crack first grade with Queanbeyan and give it a good go."
Fulford's cricket commitments with the Comets and Canberra club side Ginninderra mean he has yet to join the Tigers full preseason training squad.
Once he is able to fully turn his attentions to Queanbeyan's upcoming NEAFL campaign, the Tigers will likely target Fulford at filling the departed Fruend's role in the forward pocket.
"He's still only young but he's got a lot of talent," Klemke said. "He showed he can match it in the Ovens and Murray last year so having lost 'Fruey', Ben might be the person to step into that role for us.
"I'm not saying he'll be able to fill those shoes straight away but he'll hopefully give us another option in front of goal and it'll be great for him to learn from blokes like [James] Kavanagh and [Ryan] Quade."
Klemke also confirmed the club remained on the hunt for a backman following the season-ending injury to key defender Josh Bryce.