North Ballarat Roosters prepared for VFL battle with Collingwood

COLLINGWOOD represents the way Victorian Football League competition is moving.

As AFL clubs take more control of their lists with extension teams in the VFL, the emphasis is more than just developing young players.

They want to win.

Geelong set the trend by winning a VFL premiership in 2012. Others, like Collingwood, are chasing. Hard.

North Ballarat Roosters, with AFL partner North Melbourne, have been working to adapt and grow stronger with a focus on regional talent.

The Selkirk Roosters made the move to cut their development team and effectively strengthen ties with players’ grassroots clubs.

Both models go head-to-head in the VFL season opener at Victoria Park today.

Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald has been preparing his list for this battle all summer.

“Collingwood in the VFL has been demanding more of its players,” FitzGerald said.

“It’s not just about finding players to support their AFL-listed players.

“They have reinforced that in how they have recruited very, very good ex-AFL or very good amateur players to complement their listed players.

“I’ve said to our players for a long time that Collingwood at Collingwood will be a challenge and we’ve tested our players in pre-season games against top-four teams, or those that will be up-and-about, and in matches away from home.”

The Roosters expect about 15 AFL-listed players to line up at Victoria Park this afternoon.

This includes experienced ruckman Ben Hudson, who boasts the towering Quinten Lynch for support in the hit-out.

Plus, there is former Melbourne-listed midfielder Tom Couch, a specific VFL recruit who has dominated for the Melbourne-aligned Casey Scorpions in his time with the Demons.

The Roosters will field eight Kangaroos’ listed players.

Rooster Nick Couch was last night cleared to return to the seniors after a season sideline with a knee injury. 

Couch played 50 per cent game time in a practice match last week in what FitzGerald said was a good chance to get a bit of the “rust” out of his game.

Fellow midfielder Nick Peters will also mark his return to the club after a

year’s hiatus for work in Kalgoorlie.

FitzGerald said Peters had worked hard to catch-up and sustain skill and intensity of a VFL pre-season.

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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