LAKE WENDOUREE skipper Ben Taylor has been like a caged tiger, forced to sit out the Lakers’ first two matches of the season due to suspension.
His return tomorrow, however, gives the Sectrol Lakers a much-welcome injection of experience, against Ballarat at Harcourt’s Oval, Wendouree.
And in more good news for the green machine, Billy Anderson and Mathew Battistello are available, giving the Lakers their strongest line-up of the season to date.
Anderson has had an interrupted pre-season and has come back through the reserves. Battistello does not have a scheduling clash this week in his role as assistant coach with North Ballarat Rebels, who play on Sunday, so he is also able to line up against his former club.
“All three are premiership players. All have got a bit of experience and will give us a bit of strength particularly in the midfield,” playing coach Gavin Webb says.
“It also gives us more options. Obviously they will spend a lot of time on the ball but they (Taylor and Battistello) also go forward and kick goals.
“One of the things we need to work on was spotting targets. We had enough ball inside-50 last week but didn’t make the most of our opportunities. With (Taylor and Battistello), you know they won’t just try to bomb it forward.
“It’s also two players Ballarat needs to worry about, too. Last week North City probably didn’t have anyone in the midfield they needed to be mindful of.”
The Lakers have had no forced changes, and will be able to shuffle some players into more familiar roles after a couple of weeks experimenting.
Despite two losses from two starts, Webb says there were considerable positives that came out of the defeats that may bear fruit with the return of some experienced players.
“Some of the younger guys have played roles they’re not used to.
“It is good for them long term but this will also improve us this week in terms of a bit of voice and strength around the ball,” Webb says.
“The second half against North City was a lot better. We need to take that into this week.”
Full-forward Mark Nunn will play his first game of the season for Ballarat but the Simonds Swans have lost fellow key forward Chris Prockter, who will see a specialist on Wednesday to determine the extent of a shoulder injury.
The Swans have also recalled Lachlan Cassidy.
“I think we are travelling reasonably well. If we win this weekend it sets us up nicely,” Ballarat coach Shane Hutchinson says.
PREDICTION: Ballarat by 14 points