American ruckman Eric Wallce to make VFL debut with North Ballarat Roosters

ANTICIPATION and intrigue has been building for the senior debut of American ruckman Eric Wallace.

That game has arrived.

Wallace, a North Melbourne international rookie, will make play his first Victorian Football League match with North Ballarat Roosters.

He stamp his introduction as the Roosters’ primary ruckman.

He will do so against AFL veteran Ben Hudson, named in the Collingwood line-up to play at Victora Park in the season opener tomorrow.

It is a big test for Wallace, but he has been challenged in the hit-out against Richmond’s Orren Stephenson

(a triple Roosters’ premiership ruckman) and the Kangaroos’ popular Sudanese ruck Majak Daw in practice matches.

On the fringe of senior selection late last season, Wallace spent last year – his first playing Australian Rules – in the Roosters’ development league.

When the Roosters axed their secondary team in September, with a restructuring in processes for those players not requied for senior action, methods started to be put in place to promote Wallace.

The Kangaroos and Roosters reached an agreement to keep Wallace playing in the black-and-white, rather than a transfer to the Kangaroos’ other VFL alignment at Werribee (which fields a development team).

His pre-season has focused on improved fitness and endurance.

The Roosters trialled forward recruit Jordan Staley, a former St Kilda rookie, in a support rucking role for last week’s practice game with Werribee.

Staley is likely to play a similar role tomorrow in his club debut.

The Roosters have named eight new players to the club to line up at Victoria Park, including returning premiership player Nick Peters, from a year in Kalgoorlie, and Gus Grigg, who also spent a season away.

Midfielder James Tsitas, last year’s Geelong Falcons captain, has been named as 23rd man.

INJURED/UNAVAILABLE: Lachlan George (suspended, one week), Bryce Curnow (knee, two weeks), Daniel Semmens (hand, five weeks), Mitchell Rodd (abductor, indefinite).

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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