Group 9’s reigning Weissel medalist James Luff won’t be turning out for the Gundagai Tigers next season after committing to the Queanbeyan Roos for 2020.
The talented hooker, who has been one Gundagai and Group 9’s best for a sustained period, admitted it was difficult to leave his beloved Tigers.
“It was always going to be hard, I love the club,” he said.
“I’ve been a Tiger since I was nine and besides a small stint in Sydney, I’ve always played for the club.”
Luff sighted a variety of reasons for the move, including the need to test himself at in a stronger competition..
“I feel like I’ve achieved everything I can for the Tigers and in Group 9 and I really wanted to challenge myself,” he said. “I’ve got nothing tying me down here and I can make the change without it impacting anybody but me.”
Luff also noted Group 9’s schedule, which has most games played on Sundays, was also a factor.
“The Canberra comp plays a lot more Saturday games, which is really good,” he said. “When you are playing on a Sunday, you wake up Monday feeling sore and it takes the enjoyment out of it.
“Group 9 really need to consider moving senior footy to Saturday and junior footy to Sunday.”
Luff will continue living in Gundagai and will travel to Queanbeyan for the opportunity to play Saturday; travelling two hours at a time for training and games.
Funnily enough, it was two on-field rivals and Tumut players that helped the former Tiger with his switch to the Roos.
“Adam and Jed Pearce actually used to play for Queanbeyan and helped me get in contact with the club,” he said. “I had a few offers and definitely wanted something different but Queanbeyan seemed the best fit and it allows me to still live here.”
Queanbeyan Roos president Leigh Kiely was pleased that Luff had made the decision to sign on with his club.
“We had heard some really good reports about him, so we made an offer and after some time, he agreed to terms,” he said.
“We chase quality players and we need depth and he fits that bill.”
The Queanbeyan side has been one of the best teams in the last decade of the Canberra Raiders Cup competition.
“We have been in six of the last 10 grand finals, while we also made the semi finals in the other four years,” he said.
The Roos went one game short of another grand final appearance last season, when knocked out by Goulburn in the semi finals.
Kiely is banking on Luff to help the side back to the top of the table in 2020 and wants the Roos playing in another competition decider.
“I think he will add that touch of class; we have good young halves and he will offer some experience,” he said.
“We also have Travis and Reece Robinson backing up again next season, so we should be in with a big chance again to feature.”