RECRUITING COUP: Imperials have signed former Carlton and West Adelaide key position player Adam Hartlett for the 2017 season.

By ADAM LUITJES

IN a big coup for Imperials Football Netball Club – and the Sunraysia Football Netball League – former Carlton and West Adelaide key position player Adam Hartlett, PICTURED, has signed with the Green and Whites for the 2017 season.

The 30-year-old committed to Imps following a meeting with club president, Peter O’Donnell, on Sunday night, and will move to Mildura with his young family in December.

It’s understood the former West Adelaide vice-captain was also approached to take over the head coaching role at Red Cliffs.

The brother of Port Adelaide star Hamish, Adam played 11 games for Carlton before signing with West Adelaide in 2010, where he went on to play 85 games, which included the 2015 premiership.

Despite being restricted to nine games this season due to injury, Hartlett still managed to poll 60 votes to finish fifth in the Bloods’ best and fairest.

A versatile big man, Hartlett is expected to play a role at either end of the ground for Imps, while also supporting Senior coach, Brad Hards, as assistant.

“I am excited to be a playing assistant, and to be able to help develop the junior talent coming through,” Hartlett told the Mildura Weekly. “I spoke to Peter O’Donnell (Imps president) and he said there was a lot of guys who came up from the juniors this year, so it’s exciting to have that youth and exuberance.

“I will certainly be backing these guys to play their natural game, and hopefully I will be able to help build their defensive side as well.”

An integral member of the Bloods’ drought-breaking premiership, Hartlett said helping Imps climb back up the ladder was his main objective.

“I have been lucky to have experienced some success in my career,” he said. “I played in successful junior teams at Edwardstown where I won four or five flags, and I also managed to win a senior premiership with Westies in 2015.

“I am certainly playing to win premierships. I am a competitive beast, so every time I set foot out on the field I go out with the aim of winning.”

With family connections in Mildura, Hartlett is excited about beginning the next chapter of his football career.

“I had spoken to a few county footy clubs, and I always felt it was a natural progression from the SANFL,” he said. “I am looking forward to playing country footy, while also being an assistant coach.

“In the SANFL you are expected to train four or five nights a week and it’s tough work, and I felt like I gave all I could.

“Especially with a young family it was hard to commit the time to training, which is something you need to do when you are playing against full-time footballers from the Crows and Port (Adelaide).”

Senior coach, Brad Hards, said Hartlett’s acquisition was a big boost for Imps, who have also welcomed back premiership player John Coleman as another playing assistant.

“It’s obviously very good news, as Adam’s such a great player,” Brad said. “He’s played a high level of footy, and he brings good ideas and plenty of experience.

“It’s amazing from a coaching point of view, and it’s great to have Adam on board.”

With a squad brimming with junior talent, Brad expects Hartlett to have a positive impact on Imps’ younger brigade.

“He’ll certainly have a big role to play with the younger players,” he said. “We had 14 kids play their first Senior games this year, so he’ll definitely play a massive role, especially with the emerging key position players.”

With pre-season scheduled to begin at the end of November, Hards said he’s excited about entering his first season as sole coach, after spending the last four seasons sharing the coaching duties with Simon Callahan.