NORTH Ballarat Rebels will blood four newcomers against top team Oakleigh Chargers in the TAC Cup under-18 football competition at Oakleigh on Sunday.
James Gow from Koroit, Sam Dunstan from Donald, Joel Cowan from Daylesford and Billy Lloyd from Horsham Demons will make their TAC Cup debuts.
Cowan and Lloyd are following in the footsteps of older brothers who have gone from the Rebels into the AFL.
Josh Cowan is on the Geelong list and Jake Lloyd made his debut with the Sydney Swans earlier this year after being promoted from the rookie list.
Dunstan is coming off a bag of 13 goals for Ballarat Clarendon College against Ballarat High School on Wednesday.
Rebels talent manager Phil Partington said the four debutants took the number of first-year players in the line-up to 13.
North Ballarat continues to be hit by injuries.
AFL/AIS Academy player Jacob Hopper is the latest to fall by the wayside.
He broke a hand playing for St Patrick’s College against St Kevin’s on Wednesday.
X-rays of the injury were referred to AFL medical staff on Thursday for further assessment.
Hopper from Leeton has also been selected in the NSW/ACT under-18 squad for the upcoming AFL national championships.
James Richards is also out with a hamstring strain suffered in a 52-point loss to Calder Cannons on Anzac Day.
The Rebels’ season is not getting any easier.
Without a win after four games and in 12th position – the lowest of the full-time TAC Cup teams – North Ballarat’s task on Sunday is to bring down the unbeaten Chargers.
Oakleigh has only been seriously challenged once in five outings.
North Ballarat has struggled in attack, kicking only six and five goals in its latest assignments.
Partington said the Rebels desperately needed to find more avenues to goals, as well as making more of opportunities in attack.
First though, they need to get their hands on the football more often.
Darcy Tucker, Jacob O’Beirne and Daniel Butler have been getting their share of the ball, as has Hopper, but more need to get more involved.