NORTH Ballarat Roosters have secured the signature of Victorian Country under-18 representative and Geelong Falcons co-captain James Tsitas.
Head coach Gerard FitzGerald said the Roosters had beaten rival VFL and SANFL clubs to land the young midfielder.
Tsitas will continue to live and study in Geelong, where he is a second-year student at Deakin University.
FitzGerald said while the Selkirk Roosters’ preferred model was to have all players living in Ballarat, there were always exceptions.
He said North Ballarat was more than happy to be flexible with Tsitas, given that as a student he would have the flexibility to meet training commitments despite the travelling required.
FitzGerald said the amount of interest in the youngster highlighted what he would offer the team.
Tsitas spent two years in the AIS-AFL Academy and was touted as a likely mid-range pick in last year’s AFL national draft.
He was described in a draft profile as a “medium midfielder with an appetite for the contest.
“His work rate and endurance are excellent, allowing him to get to a number of contests.
“He excels at stoppages and displays clean hands. He shows good courage and rarely fumbles the football.
“He can also go forward and influence the scoreboard.”
Tsitas played 16 games with the Falcons in 2012 and 12 last year.
He averaged 17 kicks and 12 handballs a game in the TAC Cup under-18 competition.
FitzGerald said Tsitas completed North Ballarat’s recruiting from beyond the greater Ballarat region, joining former St Kilda rookie Jordan Staley and ex-Hawthorn rookie Andrew Boseley as key pick-ups.
Staley has been earmarked as a marking forward, while Boseley will line up as a key defender.
Staley and Boseley were signed late last year on the condition they were accepted into courses at the Federation University in Ballarat, which FitzGerald was delighted to confirm had occurred.
FitzGerald said with 31 players contracted, five places remained on the Roosters’ modified list, which this year only needs to meet the requirements of a senior team with North Ballarat withdrawing from the AFL Development League.
He said the remaining places would be filled by players already training with the Roosters.
NORTH Ballarat is investigating playing a practice match as a curtain-raiser to the NAB Challenge fixture between North Melbourne and Carlton in Ballarat on Saturday, February 15.
The Roosters are also planning practice matches against Geelong, Richmond and Werribee in March.
These will follow their annual training camp at Lorne on February, 7, 8 and 9.