NORTH Ballarat Rebels will have a significant presence in Vic Country’s National AFL Under-18 Championship campaign.
The Rebels have nine players in a 45-strong squad.
North Ballarat’s representation for the national carnival does not stop there.
It will also have two playing for Northern Territory and one in New South Wales/ACT colours.
VIC COUNTRY: Matt Crouch (Beaufort/Ballarat Swans), Michael Close (Harrow-Balmoral), Louis Herbert (South Warrnambool), Tony Lockyer (Sebastopol), Nick Rippon (East Ballarat), Tyler Blake (Horsham Demons), David Morris (Stawell Warriors), Tanner Smith (Kalkee), Dallas Willsmore (St Patrick’s College/Walpeup-Underbool)
NORTHERN TERRITORY: Jake Neade (St Patrick’s College/East Point), Dom Barry (St Patrick’s College/East Point)
NSW/ACT: Dean Robertson (Ballarat Clarendon College/Redan)
Neade is the only one who played in last year’s national under-18 championships.
He was the Northern Territory’s most valuable player in the carnival.
Robertson follows in the footsteps of the likes of Ben Mabon (North Melbourne), Kurt Aylett (GWS Giants) and Tim Ruffles (ex-Fremantle), who played with the Rebels while attending school in Ballarat and represented NSW/ACT in the national championships.
Robertson will be sidelined for at least the early weeks of the carnival.
He already been out for four weeks with a hot spot in a foot and is expected to need another two weeks before being able to play again.
Rebels regional manager and Vic Country football manager Phil Partington said the selections were a pleasing outcome for the North Ballarat program.
He said there was still the possibility of others being added throughout the championship if their form warranted selection.
Partington said there were some who missed out who could consider themselves quite unlucky.
Having such a big representation will also test the depth of the Rebels’ in home and away matches playing during the month of the interstate carnival.
Partington said as always this would provide opportunities for players yet to have a taste of the TAC Cup.
He said there was always the possibility of unearthing a surprise packet in this process.
The Rebels have this weekend off while the Vic Country and Vic Metro squads meet in practice matches at Visy Park on Sunday.
The championships begin with NT playing Vic Metro in Darwin on Saturday, March 26.
Vic Country’s schedule:
ROUND 1: v NSW/ACT at Blacktown on Saturday, June 2.
ROUND 2: v Queensland at Visy Park on Sunday, June 10.
ROUND 3: v Western Australia at Patterson Stadium (Perth) on Sunday, June 17.
ROUND 4: v Vic Metro at Simmonds Stadium (Geelong) on Friday, June 26.
ROUND 5: v South Australia at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, July 4.
• NORTH Ballarat Rebels will resume the TAC Cup season against Tasmania in Hobart on Saturday, May 26.
They will play as a curtain-raiser to the Tasmania State Football League’s clash with the VFL.