Roosters focus within as pre-season training begins

NORTH Ballarat’s initial priority in pre-season is to build from within its own ranks after missing finals in the VFL this year.

The Roosters launched into pre-season training last night, still to announce any major signings.

Three-time premiership coach Gerard FitzGerald has consistently adopted this approach, firstly looking to a high player retention rate and then working on bringing through young talent to take the next step.

Despite not playing in a finals series for the first time since he returned for a second stint to the helm of the Selkirk Roosters in 2007, FitzGerald sees no reason to sway from this philosophy.

The North Melbourne-aligned North Ballarat has already nominated established players such as Nick Peters, Oliver Tate and Jason Linke as the equivalent to recruits.

All missed major parts of last season owing to injury.

Peters was restricted to just one senior and three AFL Development League appearances because of what has been diagnosed a back-related thigh strain.

Hip and knee issues kept Tate to just five development league games.

Linke returned in the first half of the season, but could not rediscover the form which saw him play 12 VFL senior matches in 2011 and was restricted to playing with the development team.

FitzGerald is hoping Daniel Semmens, who joined the Roosters in 2011 after playing with the Geelong Falcons, will also be able to fulfil the promise he showed in the TAC Cup under-18 competition.

North Ballarat has had its longest off-season break in FitzGerald’s reign as a result of missing the finals.

FitzGerald said he had been encouraged by the number of players who had undergone their own fitness programs in the break in readiness for the five-week run to Christmas-New Year.

The Roosters spent 60 minutes on the track last night – 40 minutes of ball handling and the balance running – under the new-look coaching panel. FitzGerald has added best and fairest and three-time premiership captain Shaune Moloney, and premiership player and former captain Marc Greig to his assistant coaching line-up.

Moloney, who spent most of VFL at full back, is looking after the defenders and Greig the forwards.

Brad Macgowan and Shane Snibson are midfield coaches – the first time FitzGerald has had two coaches overseeing the facet. Justin Abrams is again coach of the development league team. He will be assisted by former Waubra and Dunnstown coach Paul Jennings.

david.brehaut@thecourier.com.au

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