THIS is a transition year for North Ballarat Roosters as the club prepares to become a standalone club in the Victorian Football League.
The Roosters and Aflpartner North Melbourne have made it clear they want to finish their partial alignment with a strong final season together.
It is the end of an era - an era Roosters coach Gerard FitzGerald said both clubs want to look back proudly on.
They part amicably.
North Melbourne wants to move into a full-alignment and will do so with its other Vflpartner Werribee in 2016, with the purpose of eventually forming its own standalone arm.
In turn, the Roosters have undertaken their most aggressive recruiting campaign for some time.
Headlining recruits are homecoming trio Orren Stephenson, Myles Sewell and Andrew Hooper.
Stephenson is back from three years’ experience on Afllists (2012 with Geelong, 2013-14 with Richmond).
A triple VFL premiership ruckman with the Roosters, Stephenson also played a pivotal role in the Cats’ 2012 flag.
He has adopted a midfield coaching role with the Roosters and is working with North Ballarat Rebels’ talls to fulfil a newfound passion for teaching the game.
Sewell has achieved all top VFL honours – premierships, a JJ Liston Trophy as league best and fairest, Norm Goss Medal as best on ground in a grand final and VFL teams of the year.
He returned from a season’s hiatus overseas to play out the 2014 season and a grand final with Ballarat Swans in the Ballarat Football League.
Hooper is a Rebels graduate, rookie drafted and promoted to an AFL list with Western Bulldogs.
He spent the past two seasons with Glenelg in the SANFL.
He was part of the Tigers’ leadership group but wanted to move back to Ballarat to live, work and play football.
FitzGerald said Stephenson, Sewell and Hooper were the most obvious recruits but some of the lesser-known players were also important for the Roosters.
Shaun Lyle steps up his game from North Ballarat City in the Ballarat Football League.
Lyle tested his game in a preseason with VFL club Footscray last summer and won the BFL’s Tony Lockett Medal as senior leading goalkicker last year.
James Lukich and Jesse Collins transfer from nowfolded VFL club Bendigo Gold.
Another former Bendigo Gold player Jared Bacon, who broke his collarbone last season and returned to the field in a strong and impressive campaign with Ballarat-club Redan,
also joins the Roosters.
And there is explosive Cobden midfielder Brody Mahoney, who is ready to step up his game from the Hampden Football League.
Mahoney’s dedication to training and improved fitness levels have gained attention at Eureka Stadium and back at his home club.
FitzGerald said the crucial part of list management was a focus on retention and organic development.
First-year players would be finding their feet but players with a couple of seasons under their belts – James Tsitas, Nick Rippon and Sam Scott – were ready to make bigger impacts on the game.
The Roosters cut their development team a season ago to strengthen both their list and ties with the region’s grassroots clubs.
Now, set to go standalone, developing an influential homegrown core will be crucial for the club to remain competitive.
NORTH BALLARAT ROOSTERS LIST
1 Andrew Hooper (North Ballarat under-18/Western Bulldogs AFL/Glenelg SANFL/Charlton)
2 Tony Lockyer (Sebastopol/North Ballarat under-18)
3 Nick Rippon (East Point/North Ballarat under-18)
4 Coleman Schache (Hopetoun/North Ballarat under-18/Southern Mallee Giants)
5 James Keeble (Boort/Bendigo under-18/Sebastopol)
6 Nick Couch (Geelong under-18/Terang-Mortlake/Springbank)
7 Luke Kiel (Swan Hill)
8 Nick Peters (Warrack Eagles/North Ballarat under-18/North Ballarat VFL/Kalgoorlie (WA))
9 Lachlan George (North Ballarat under-18/North Ballarat VFL/Tassie Devils VFL/Box Hill VFL)
10 Sam Hooper (North Ballarat City/North Ballarat under-18)
11 Matt Austin (North Ballarat under-18/Brisbane Lions AFL/Sebastopol)
12 Liam Hoy (Warrnambool/North Ballarat under-18/Redan)
13 Trent Dumont* (Norwood )
14 Liam Youl South (Warrnambool/North Ballarat under-18/Ballarat)
15 James Tsitas (Grovedale/Geelong under-18)
16 Lachlan Cassidy (North Ballarat under-18/Ballarat)
17 Tyler Blake (North Ballarat under-18/Dimboola/Lake Wendouree)
18 Orren Stephenson (Redan/North Ballarat VFL/Geelong AFL/Richmond AFL)
19 Nathan Horbury (Mt Clear JFC/North Ballarat under-18/Redan)
20 Rowan Marshall (Portland/North Ballarat under-18/Sebastopol)
21 Jesse Collins (Lockington Bamawm/Bendigo Gold VFL/Eaglehawk)
22 Lucas Anderson (Bendigo under-18/North Ballarat VFL/Donald/Lake Wendouree)
23 Shaun Lyle (North Ballarat under-18/North Ballarat City)
24 Sam Durdin* (Loxton /West Adelaide SANFL)
25 Max Warren** (Healesville/Eastern under-18)
26 Andrew Boseley (Geelong under-18/Hawthorn AFL/South Barwon)
27 Taylor Garner* (Rowville/Dandenong under-18)
28 Robin Nahas** (Port Melbourne VFL/Richmond AFL)
29 James Richards (Horsham Saints/North Ballarat under-18/Sebastopol)
30 Sam Scott (Leopold/Geelong under-18)
31 Braydon Preuss** (Mt Gravatt QAFL/Hermit Park QLD)
32 Brad McKenzie* (Marryatville High School /Sturt SANFL)
33 Myles Sewell (Newlyn/North Ballarat under-18/Coburg VFL/Ballarat)
34 Jarod Bacon (Bendigo Gold VFL/Redan)
35 Jordan Staley (Foster/Gippsland under-18/St Kilda AFL/East Point)
36 Brody Mahoney (Geelong under-18/Cobden)
37 Ben Jacobs* (Brighton Grammar/Sandringham under-18/Port Adelaide AFL)
39 James Lukich (Bendigo Gold VFL/Ballarat)
40 Joel Tippett* (Gold Coast Suns AFL/West Adelaide )
41 Aaron Mullett* (Port Douglas QLD/Vermont/Eastern under-18)
42 Bryce Curnow (Golden Square/Strathfieldsaye/North Ballarat City)
43 Jacob Werts (Ballarat/Learmonth)
44 Keegan Mellingoton (Horsham Saints/North Ballarat under-18/East Point)
45 Jackson Bowen (Bendigo under-18/Carisbrook/Lake Wendouree)
46 Nicholas Weghtman (Bungaree/North Ballarat under-18)
47 Jesse Murphy (Warrack Eagles/North Ballarat under-18/East Point)
48 Mitch Rodd (Ballarat)
49 Michael Powell (Sebastopol)
50 Jonathan Lanyon (Boort/Bendigo under-18/North Ballarat under-18/East Point)
Jackson Bolton #
**North Melbourne rookie
#North Ballarat Roosters rookie