Call him king of the kids.
Nathan Hunter has a one-year old daughter, and twins on the way.
And when he walked into training at new club Mangoplah-Cookardinia United-Eastlakes… more kids.
“I couldn’t get over it, sitting on the sideline and getting to know the boys and a lot of them are still at school,” Hunter said.
Only 26, the former Northern Jets ruckman and Leeton-Whitton junior is coming off a season at Wodonga Raiders.
He’s excited to be taking on the role of elder statesman.
“To have a club that’s had a go at two grand finals and to still have them all 18, 19 (years old) – it’s a credit to them,” he said.
“They’ve got a lot of good years ahead of them which is a great opportunity.”
With a young family, Hunter was looking for a change from the heavy commitments of the O&M.
He’s excited to be back in the Riverina League, where his senior career began in the backline with the Crows.
“It’s changed a bit since I was last in it, five years ago,” he said.
“It’s got a lot faster and – from what I can tell – not as many big blokes running around.”
Hunter played six games in first grade with the Raiders, pinch-hitting in the ruck, and 11 games in reserves.
A versatile key position player, he gives MCUE options after the departure of Andrew Pettigrove, and is likely to rotate with Andrew Dickins in the ruck.
Hunter played little more than a quarter of last week’s practice match against Thurgoona, with a cork ending his input early in the six-goal win.
MCUE co-coach Travis Cohalan said they fielded a young side, with no-one over the age of 27.
Matt Collins was in the forward line, where he’s likely to figure again this year.
“We know he can play back,” Cohalan said.
“We’d like two of him – he’s very valuable – but he’s just such a valuable weapon up forward.”
Former rugby league player Tristan Dickson spent some time in the forward line and on the wing.
“He’s an exciting project player and we’re confident he’ll get better with every game he plays,” Cohalan said.
MCUE face a torrid start to the season, with Collingullie-Glenfield Park, Ganmain-Grong Grong-Matong, Leeton-Whitton and Wagga Tigers in the first month.