NORTH Ballarat Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald says his team is far better equipped to meet Box Hill this weekend than it was four weeks ago.
To face the reigning Victorian Football League premier in the Hawks’ nest on Saturday is a formidable challenge – especially with Selkirk Roosters’ captain Michael Searl still on the sidelines.
FitzGerald said his players have continued to push forward. The Roosters keep adapting.
“We’ve been playing some good footy and there’s some great confidence around the place,” FitzGerald said.
“We’ve played one game without Searly now...it means more of the other tall boys have extra responsibility. We’re used to the fact we have to work without him and how to work without him.”
Searl’s on-field absence last round, with a broken hand, forced other talls to shoulder more responsibility across the field – which they did successfully against Bendigo.
This week, the Roosters also regain pivotal defender Oli Tate to the mix.
Four weeks ago, the Roosters finally were able to build on a breakthrough win against Footscray.
A fortnight before that they really had Geelong rattled at the Cattery.
They arrive in Box Hill on four consecutive wins off a fortnight to prepare – thanks to the state game bye round – and overall, in a strong place mentally to meet Box Hill.
Only, the Hawks have had a fortnight to prepare, too, and a fortnight to plot how to make amends for their first season loss made at the hands of Port Melbourne.
The Roosters spent Wednesday night training in match play, with a band of players simulating the Hawks’ style play.
Roosters midfielder Nick Couch will captain the team this round, following on from Luke Kiel, who skippered the Roosters in his hometown Swan Hill last round.
It has been a big season for Couch, who missed the entire 2013 season after a knee reconstruction.
FitzGerald said Couch had been working hard to regain the strong, tough form that was his trademark before surgery.
Coleman Schache was promoted for James Keeble after training on Friday night.
Keeble has a hamstring niggle lingering from last round but will travel with the team as emergency.