VFL: Rooster Luke Kiel will be at his best for elimination final

DEFENDER Luke Kiel knows his team at its best can beat any other team in the league.

Luke Kiel works hard to set the tone as part of North Ballarat’s leadership group. Picture: Justin Whitelock

Luke Kiel works hard to set the tone as part of North Ballarat’s leadership group. Picture: Justin Whitelock

North Ballarat Roosters have both matched and beaten other powerhouses this season.

However, a thumping from the Victorian Football League’s best last week served as a reminder of what happens when the Roosters do not serve up their A-game.

Stepping into the Selkirk Roosters’ leadership group this season, Kiel has worked hard to help set the tone in the playing group.

He said the Roosters had moved on quickly from their bout with Port Melbourne and rather than dwell on what went wrong, players were focused on what they would need to do to beat Werribee on Sunday.

There is no room for error now – the stage is set for an elimination final on neutral territory and the match will be broadcast on ABC television.

The match is expected to tear at North Melbourne fans’ allegiances, with both Kangaroos-affiliated clubs pitted against each other.

“They’ve been up and down a bit lately, we’ve been up and down a bit this season, so a lot will come down to who settles first,” Kiel said.

“...If we bring our best game on the day, we’re going to win it.”

Kiel feels his own game had been a bit up and down this season.

But he said varying personal form this season did not count by finals time – all that mattered was what he put on the field this week, and he was determined to be firing for this final.

Kiel, 23, had a taste of leading the Roosters’ charge as captain this season – earning a 94-point win against Bendigo.

The role was shared among the leadership group when skipper Michael Searl was sidelined for a month with a broken hand and Kiel was proud to take up his turn for a feature game in Swan Hill, his hometown.

“It was good to be captain for a game but once you’re out on the field, it’s really just a game of footy and you play your role,” Kiel said.

“Being in the leadership group though gives you a better understanding how all things in the footy department runs.

“We all distribute information between the players, coaches and the board.

“You really learn a lot – footy isn’t just going out and playing the game, there’s all the behind the scenes stuff that’s important, too, and it’s good to see all that.”

Kiel moved to Ballarat three years ago from Swan Hill for a new challenge.

He spent his first season at Eureka Stadium playing all 18 games in the Roosters’ development league team.

Kiel seized his chance for a senior debut in round two last year and has worked to become a key inclusion in the backlines, playing 17 home and away VFL games both last year and this year.

Now he gets a new challenge: a VFL final. He knows that if his team plays at its best, this is a challenge he will get to tackle a few more times in the coming month.

melanie.whelan@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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