WHITTLESEA has boosted its hopes of Northern Football League Division 1 consolidation with the signing of former Western Bulldog and Brisbane Lion Justin Sherman.
The 28-year-old returns to Melbourne after steering Goulburn Valley Football League outfit Kyabram to this year’s grand final.
Sherman has signed a two-year deal with the Eagles as a playing assistant coach to new mentor Jim Atkins.
Sherman said he wanted to have a long association with Whittlesea, adding he hoped the Eagles would be the last club he played for.
“They seem to be in a really good position now to be able to have a really good, solid crack to stay up in the competition,” Sherman told Local Footy.
“Just the outlook from Jimmy Atkins the coach and where he wants to take the footy club over the next few years, it’s a really exciting one.
“Being a local guy, it was just a no-brainer in the end to sign at Whittlesea and be a part of something that’s hopefully going to be pretty special in the future.”
Sherman’s post-AFL career has included stints at Williamstown, Essendon District Football League side Pascoe Vale and Kyabram.
He played 21 games in the GVFL this year, booting 26 goals.
“I felt like I was pretty consistent this year for Ky,” he said.
“Coming off the last three years of interrupted seasons with injury, it’s good to know that everything is under control now, the body’s fit and healthy.
“I got through a whole season for the first time in a long time … for me it’s onwards and upwards from here now.
“I’m really looking forward to playing the whole year with Whittlesea and trying to lead by example every week for their kids.”
Sherman featured in 138 AFL matches over an eight-year career at the top level, which ended in 2012 after his delisting by the Bulldogs.
Eagles president Nathan Croughan said the club was thrilled to secure a player with Sherman’s ability and experience.
“Whittlesea is not the team that has gone after big names previously, we’ve tried to nurture the homegrown talent,” Croughan said.
“We’ve done that exceptionally well over the course of the last four years.
“Being able to bring somebody in from outside the system in both a playing and coaching capacity is going to be huge for the club.”
Whittlesea won this year’s NFL Division 2 premiership in a pulsating decider against Lalor, earning promotion to the top grade in 2016.
The Eagles have also signed Coburg VFL best and fairest winner Jai Robinson, who will play fulltime in the NFL next year.