FORMER Geelong and Carlton midfielder Billie Smedts will pull on the boots for Leopold after putting pen to a two-year deal with the GFL powerhouse.
Close friendships with former Warrnambool footballers Kevin Bourke and Lucas Boyd, as well as retiring Lion Jeremy Larcombe, proved to Leopold’s advantage in winning the race for his signature.
“That was a big factor in him coming here; no doubt he certainly had some offers on the table from a fair few other clubs but I think what really enticed him to here was just knowing he was playing with mates,” new coach Guy Morphet said.
“Obviously Billie coming on board, it’s really exciting for the club and I think it’s really exciting for the whole Geelong area.
“Obviously someone of his calibre, coming from AFL, it’s a great thing for Leopold and a great thing for the area.”
The 25-year-old was delisted by Carlton last month despite playing nine games this season following his move from Geelong.
Smedts managed 38 games at Kardinia Park after being taken with pick 15 in the 2010 National Draft.
But Morphet said Smedts was ready to return to local level footy.
“Billie just wants to play footy. I think he’s identified that coming out of the system, he just wants to get back to having a bit of fun while still playing a good standard of football,” he said.
“I think he just wants to enjoy it and take a bit of pressure off himself.”
But Morphet didn’t understate the value Smedts would bring to the competition.
“There wouldn’t be many better players running around than Billie Smedts in the GFL,” he said.
“I’m not going to put a ranking on him but he’d be in the top five players for sure.”
Smedts joins Tom Gordon (Port Melbourne) and Jack Beaton (Stawell) at Memorial Park, along with Morphet, following the departures of Alex Moloney (Terang), Ben Carmichael (Queenscliff), Simon Close (Harrow-Balmoral) and retiring pair Greg Hardy and Larcombe.