US import lands extension as AFL rookie

IMPOSING American Eric Wallace’s quick adaptation into North Ballarat Roosters’ number one ruckman has helped land him a one-year extension as an AFL rookie.

Stepping up: US import Eric Wallace playing for North Ballarat earlier this year. PICTURE: ADAM TRAFFORD

Stepping up: US import Eric Wallace playing for North Ballarat earlier this year. PICTURE: ADAM TRAFFORD

Selkirk Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald said it was good that North Melbourne, the club’s AFL partner, had made the call to re-sign Wallace well before the season’s end.

Wallace, a college basketballer, joined the Kangaroos as an international rookie in late 2012 and spent his first year learning the game in the Roosters’ development team and seized a chance to step up to senior Victorian Football

League ranks this season.

“He’s responded well,” FitzGerald said. “People that only see him play occasionally are generally impressed with how much he is improving. I think he’s got a good awareness of where he’s at right now.”

Conditioning and endurance specific to Australian Rules are top of Wallace’s areas to improve as is his continued game awareness.

Wallace told NMFC.com.au he worked hard on and off the field with development coaches, Kangaroos leaders like Ballarat’s Drew Petrie, and the Roosters on his game.

Nicknamed “The Beast” for his hulking presence on the field, Wallace quickly impresses VFL fans with his powerful, and often aerial, marking ability, athleticism in the ruck and good ground-level skills for a tall.

“(VFL) has been very important. Big thanks to Fitzy for putting the trust in me and the guys at North Ballarat to really back me as a ruckman, putting me in and in the position I really need to be in for working on my development,” Wallace said.

“...I’m feeling very confident. I’m starting to find my niche in the team – what I do well, what I need to work on.

“There’s still some things I need to get better at so I can play at AFL level, but from here it’s just ‘keep getting better every day’.”

Meanwhile, the Roosters will continue to assess injured skipper Michael Searl (ribs), forward Jordan Staley (ankle) and midfielder Nick Couch (knee soreness). All must show major progress in the team’s main training session on Wednesday night before they can be considered for clearance to play against Coburg this Sunday.

The Roosters are returning from a bye round and have four rounds left to seal their finals spot.

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