Confidence key to VFL finals football, says Horbury

North Ballarat Rooster Nathan Horbury is a veteran of finals football.
North Ballarat Rooster Nathan Horbury is a veteran of finals football.

NATHAN Horbury knows what it takes to win finals football.

He is a dual Redan premiership player.

Horbury is among an emerging tier of second and third-year North Ballarat Roosters who now want a taste of Victorian Football League finals football.

There is one round to play but the Selkirk Roosters are already guaranteed the club’s first finals series since 2011 when they reached the semi-finals.

For the bulk of the playing group, VFL finals football is foreign.

Horbury said there was confidence and self-belief in the group, reinforced by pivotal wins against Footscray and Box Hill Hawks in the Roosters’ mid-season six-game winning streak.

“We’ve got a pretty good crew that’s come together and Fitzy (Roosters’ coach Gerard FitzGerald) mostly looks at what we need to do week-to-week rather than talking about finals,” Horbury said.

“He has definitely mentioned a few times though, what we could achieve if we stick at it.

“We are pretty confident. If we can win this week against Port Melbourne, that will be pretty special.”

Port Melbourne is top of the ladder.

The Borough have only lost two games this season – Geelong, then the rampant Footscray a week later – but have since won their past seven games straight.

A meeting with the Roosters has been saved until last.

Horbury, almost now 23, said his own season started slow and a changing list – including the departure of on-field leaders like Myles Sewell, Steve Clifton and Bill Driscoll – created an adjustment period for the whole playing group.

The Roosters lost the opening four games of the season but there looked to be promising signs in their game.

Horbury said they tightened their game, particularly defensive play, and things started to click.

The Roosters have strong experience, led by captain Michael Searl, but the improvement of this next emerging tier with the likes of Horbury, Tony Lockyer, Coleman Schache and Nick Rippon has been an important factor in the Roosters’ season.

The Roosters were rewarded in a breakthrough two-point win against Footscray at Eureka Stadium in early May.

They have pulled off a string of impressive wins, largely based on confidence in team plans and, importantly, in each other.

This is Horbury’s second year with the Roosters and he has played every game, but it was his consistency that helped keep him in senior ranks.

His improving drive developed Horbury into a dangerous midfield-forward.

The decision to take his game to VFL level came from his grassroots club.

Horbury played in North Ballarat Rebels’ TAC Cup under-18 program before moving back to where he became a Ballarat Football League premiership player (2009, 2011) alongside his brother Damien.

“A few people at Redan said it to me, to try the Roosters – a couple of people, like Jake Bridges, said to give it a go,” Horbury said.

“It’s a good challenge and Redan are really good about it, too.”

Horbury said the build-up to VFL finals was hard to compare to his time with Redan in the BFL but there were recurring themes.

Players were all pretty good mates about the club.

And finals time was always an exciting time in football.


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