A Victorian country football club has pulled off one of the biggest recruiting coups in the AFL off-season, signing former Essendon star Anthony McDonald-Tipungwuti.
The Imperial Football Netball Club, who play in the Mildura's Sunraysia Football League announced the signing of the 133-game ex-AFL on social media earlier this week, stating they were 'ecstatic' with McDonald-Tipungwuti's decision to join the club.
"This is another outstanding recruiting coup and we are delighted with Anthony's decision to join the club," the club said in a statement released on social media.
"After announcing his retirement from Essendon after a 133-game career, 'Tippa' has relocated to Mildura and shared his time between Mildura and playing some games in Darwin.
"We are fortunate as a club to have great connections and after speaking with Anthony and his mother Jane, Tippa quickly confirmed that he loved the family atmosphere and strong culture of our club and they were the key attributes behind his decision.
"The club holds no expectations of Anthony and welcomes Jane and Anthony with open arms and look forward to providing them both a home to share their experiences both on and off the field.
"Tippa is extremely talented, as we have seen, and to have him in our playing group and for our junior players to look up to will have the club buzzing with excitement."
Earlier this season, McDonald-Tipungwuti made his long-awaited return to his junior club, the Tiwi Bombers, who play in the Northern Territory Football League .
The silky-skilled small forward has featured in four games and is fresh off a 15-disposal and two-goal performance in the Tiwi Bombers' 73-point win over Wanderers last weekend.
McDonald-Tipungwuti announced his retirement from Essendon at the end of last season after eight years at the elite level.
He originally joined the club via Essendon's VFL program, before eventually earning a spot on the main list after being selected with pick 22 in the 2015 AFL Rookie Draft.
The man known as 'Walla' kicked 157 goals across his career and won Essendon's leading goalkicker award in 2020.
In July 2020, he broke the record for most consecutive AFL games for Essendon in the AFL era.
Imperial have struggled in recent times and last season finished bottom of the Sunraysia Football League ladder, having not registered a win in 2023.