EXPERIENCED Xavier Vearing will make his first appearance with North Ballarat Rebels for the TAC Cup season at Bendigo tomorrow.
The Ararat onballer is one of five inclusions in an extended squad for an encounter with Bendigo Pioneers.
Jacob Wheelahan (Bacchus Marsh), Tom Ludeman (Warrnambool), Ben Simpson (East Ballarat) and Luke McLeod (Warrnambool) are all vying to make their debut in the under-18 football competition.
Angus Martin, Sam Hooper and Sam Glover are out of the line-up that lost to Geelong Falcons by 28 points at Camperdown in the Rebels’ first assignment of the season.
Martin, who kicked three goals against the Falcons, is unavailable owing to family commitments, while Hooper has suffered yet another injury setback.
Hooper, from North Ballarat City, will visit a surgeon today to assess the extent of an anterior cruciate ligament issue.
It continues a horror run for the youngster, who has had a broken collarbone and full shoulder reconstructions over the past two seasons.
Vearing is in his third season with North Ballarat and makes a welcome return.
He played one game in 2012 before becoming a regular last year with 14 matches.
The Rebels run into Bendigo, which fell short against Murray Bushrangers by eight points.
North Ballarat coach David Loader said the Rebels were going into the game confident they were capable of getting the points.
He said although North Ballarat had lost to the Pioneers in a practice match, he believed they could turn the tables as long they improved kicking effectiveness and defensive pressure across the board.
Loader said it was natural at this time of the season that there was enormous room for improvement, with many players new to the team and program – eight made their Rebels debuts in the season opener.
OTHER TAC CUP MATCHES: Gippsland Power v Murray Bushrangers, Northern Knights v Sandringham Dragons, Geelong Falcons v Dandenong Stingrays, Oakleigh Chargers v Western Jets, Eastern Ranges v Calder Cannons