AFL FANS can watch headline recruits Dale Thomas and Nick Dal Santo step into battle for their new clubs for the first time in Ballarat.
New Blue Thomas, a former Magpie, and star Kangaroo pick-up Dal Santo, who transferred from the Saints, are named to play in Saturday evening’s NAB Challenge match at Eureka Stadium.
Hometown hero Drew Petrie will return to play at the venue after missing North Melbourne’s recent outings in Ballarat due to injuries and player rotations.
However, the city will not get to see former North Ballarat Rooster and Ballarat Clarendon College
graduate Michael Jamison in action. Carlton left the key backman out of its 29-player squad for the pre-season hit-out.
The Blues will also play without key senior players in former skipper Chris Judd (Achilles), Lachie Henderson (groin), Kade Simpson, Matthew Kreuzer, Andrew Carrazzzo, Heath Scotland and Jeff Garlett.
They could name experienced recruits Andrejs Everitt (Western Bulldogs/Sydney) and Cameron Wood (Brisbane/Collingwood) and first pick from last year’s national draft in midfielder Patrick Cripps.
North Melbourne coach Brad Scott indicated last week, during the club’s Ballarat community camp, that the Kangaroos would bring a strong senior squad to town for the match with a couple of new faces in the mix.
He stuck to his word with captain Andrew Swallow (Achilles) the only major gap to fill as he continues his rehabilitation after surgery.
Kangaroos may get to see the highly-touted father-son draftee Luke McDonald, who spent last season playing with the club’s Victorian Football League partner Werribee.
Carlton and North Melbourne will reduce teams to 26 players 90 minutes before the game.
New multi-purpose coaching boxes have been installed at the ground this week, in time for the game, with Carlton coach Mick Malthouse – a North Ballarat playing legend – tipped to be first to use them.
NAB Challenge action starts at 4.40pm with gates to open at 3pm. The match will be televised on Pay TV.
North Ballarat Roosters and Northern Blues, VFL affiliates of each AFL team, will play a pre-season match following the North Melbourne-Carlton game, from 7.15pm.
The Roosters and Blues will feature players from each of their partner AFL clubs.