THE REBELS have called on some special Rioli skill in the TAC Cup under-18s this week.
Daniel Rioli, nephew of Hawthorn’s Cyril Rioli, will make his debut for North Ballarat Rebels at Eureka Stadium on Saturday.
The Rebels are set to clash with an in-form Gippsland Power, which is set to arrive in town on a three-game winning streak.
This is the first time this season that the Rebels will step out as the ladder leaders. They are hunting a sixth-consecutive win in their second Ballarat home game.
Rebels coach David Loader said Power had some genuine stars in the mix and would undoubtedly serve up a huge challenge.
“Gippsland’s a good, hard unit,” he said.
“We’re trying to do our best to balance the workload of our players. We’re training specifically now for what we want to achieve in each match. We have a relatively healthy squad, but we’ve got such a long way to go and the game can change very quickly, so we’re making sure we’re doing as much as possible to keep players healthy.”
The cut in travel has helped.
Coming home to Ballarat was sweet for the Rebels, who spent their first six matches on the road.
Loader said the team relished the hometown support at Eureka Stadium last week and hoped – especially with an 11am start – to draw another good crowd this weekend.
Rioli (St Patrick’s College/East Point) is promoted to the team with the returning Todd Lawrence and Jonathon Neville, who will add height and strength.
Hugh McCluggage (South Warrnambool) will get his second game as Rebels’ 23rd man.
McCluggage impressed on debut last week with about 15 possessions from limited 50 per cent game time.
Line-ups, page 28