NORWOOD is pleased to announce the signing of 22-year-old defender Matt Vardanega and inside midfielder Mitch Cotter for the 2021 SANFL Season.
Vardanega has been recruited from the Canberra Demons, the versatile defender made his NEAFL debut in Round 1 of 2016 for the GWS GIANTS.
The 21-year-old played a further thirteen matches that year, before establishing himself as a regular member of Canberra’s line-up in 2018, playing 18 of 23 matches, including the club’s elimination final win over Sydney University.
The 186cm defender played every game in 2019, averaging 16.6 disposals, 5.1 marks and 4.6 intercepts.
Vardanega in 2020 joined the Queanbeyan Tigers in the ACT and featured prominently in their quest to the Premiership.
Vardanega played all 12 games for the season and was influential in the 2020 decider against the Eastlake Demons.
Football Operations Manager, Mark Ross said Vardanega was a player in which the club targeted to assist in defence.
“Matt is a highly talented footballer,” said Ross.
“Vardanega reads the game well combined with elite aerial capabilities which is something we are really excited to add to our defensive structure.
“Having played a fair amount of Senior football we look forward to Matt joining the football club and welcome him and his family to the Parade in 2020.”
Matt Vardanega is no stranger to the Norwood Football Club as he is the son of 1984 Premiership Player Glen Vardanega.
Vardanega said he was thrilled to be at Norwood next season and is ready to work hard with pre-season not far away.
“I am absolutely stoked to be joining Norwood,” said Vardanega.
“It’s always something that has been in the back of my mind, my Dad’s a Premiership player at the Redlegs and growing up I’ve always been immersed in Norwood from trying on guernseys and all that, so I’m absolutely beside myself.
“I’m looking forward to arriving and learning from a lot of the players and coaches to cement myself in the side as soon as I can.
“Hopefully, I can establish myself in the side as an intercepting, running half-back and have an impact to win as many games as we can to win the Premiership.”
The Redlegs have also landed tough inside midfielder Mitch Cotter from Frankston in the VFL.
Cotter played 19 games for the Dandenong Stingrays in the TAC Cup in 2017, before joining Frankston for the 2018 and 19 seasons.
The 21-year old whilst at Frankston also played Senior Football for AFL Outer East Division One side Doveton.
Doveton went onto win the 2019 Premiership against Pakenham, with Cotter influential for the Eagles named fourth best.
Ross welcomed Cotter to the Parade and hinted he could likely fill the void of the retiring Will Abbott.
“Mitch is a fantastic individual who will add plenty to the Norwood side in 2021,” Ross said.
“He is tough, works hard and absolutely loves the contest.
“Mitch is a like for like type replacement for Will Abbott, and will no doubt bring plenty to the side next season.
“We welcome Mitch and his partner Kasey to the Norwood Football Club in 2021.”
Cotter said he is looking forward to the challenge and is ready for a big 2021 campaign.
“I am absolutely wrapt to get the opportunity to play for Norwood in 2021,” said Cotter.
“I’m itching at the bit to move over to Adelaide to meet everyone and start training.
“Speaking to Gary Buckenara, he spoke glowingly of Norwood as well as everyone else I have spoken to about the club.
“Speaking to Jade (Rawlings) and Mark, I’ve been really impressed with how they operate which made my decision to join Norwood an easy one.”
Michael Knoll (Sydney/South Adelaide), Jacob Kennerley (returned/Geelong), Matthew Vardanega (Canberra Demons), Mitch Cotter (Frankston)
Ryan Bastinac (Queensland), Sam Baulderstone (retired/Payneham), Will Abbott (Old Ignations), Tom Pinyon (Mount Compass), Ben Millman