VFL: Roosters focus on recruiting big names

EX-AFL listed players Lucas Cook and Steve Clifton are two primary targets for North Ballarat in the VFL as the Roosters ramp up their recruiting following the AFL pre-season and rookie drafts.

North Ballarat coach Gerard FitzGerald said the Roosters’ recruiting plans had been in a holding pattern until Tuesday’s rookie draft but would now go ahead as delisted footballers look elsewhere to play.

Clifton, who was delisted by Greater Western Sydney after one season and five games, has been training at Eureka Stadium with the Selkirk Roosters, while FitzGerald confirmed the club had already had talks with ex-Melbourne first round draft pick Cook.

“We would obviously be delighted to see Steve at the Roosters next season,” FitzGerald said yesterday.

“We still feel ‘Cliffo’ is good enough to play AFL and, now that option is not available to him for next season, we will be hoping he returns here.

“In the past few weeks we have had some preliminary discussions with Lucas. He is a former Rebels player, from the region if not from Ballarat, and already made a contribution as our 23rd player at the Roosters a few years ago when he was at the Rebels.”

Cook, 20, originally from Hopetoun, was selected by the Demons with pick 12 in the 2010 national draft but was cut this year without playing a senior game.

Clifton, 25, was selected in last year’s rookie draft.

FitzGerald said the club was very pleased with the outcome of Tuesday’s rookie draft even if that meant some potential recruiting targets would not be available to the club next season.

In particular, he congratulated former Roosters premiership players Brett Goodes and Orren Stephenson, who were rookie-listed by the Western Bulldogs and Geelong respectively on Tuesday.

“We were quite confident Orren would end up at Richmond so we hadn’t factored him into our recruiting,” FitzGerald said.

“He has proved he is very capable and will fill a role there.

“It’s great news for Brett. He is 28 and a few years ago a player of his age, I would not have liked his chances, but now AFL clubs will look at players at VFL level who can perform a role.

“You can look at recent recruiting of James Podsiadly and Orren. 

“It is a terrific story.”

North Ballarat is currently on week five of its pre-Christmas program. The Roosters will have one more week on the track together before continuing with individual programs over the Christmas break. 

They will return to group training on January 21. 

gavin.mcgrath@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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