MORE than one hundred young prospects have sweated it out for a spot on the North Ballarat Rebels’ list.
The TAC Cup club hosted a testing day at St Patrick’s College on Tuesday, with footballers from across western Victoria making the trip.
The intense session – made more difficult by the heat – will be used to help selectors make their decision when the squad is eventually finalised.
Players were mercifully spared the three-kilometre time trial due to the oppressive conditions. However, they still had to participate in sprint tests, height and weight measurements and a host of competitive drills.
Rebels talent manager Phil Partington said he was impressed by the condition the players were in.
“They’ve stayed fit,” Partington said.
“A lot of them go for runs on the beach during the break. If they’re not fit, they get found out.”
Partington was full of praise for the club’s second-year brigade, which he said has led from the front since the start of pre-season.
“We’ve got good top-age players and they’ve probably taken their leadership skills to another level,” he said.
“You can tell, just by looking at them and their body shapes, which players have already had a year in the system.”
CHECK OUT OUR GALLERY OF THE REBELS IN ACTION BELOW
The only notable absentees were AFL Academy trio Jarrod Berry, Hugh McCluggage and Jarrod Korewha, who are on an overseas camp in the United States.
Partington also disclosed which players are currently training with the Rebels as 19-year-olds.
Injury-prone midfielder Jacob Wheelahan, key forward Nicholas Hausler, Charlie Lee from Warrnambool and Koroit’s James Gow have all come back for another shot.
They were keen to impress new coach Gerard FitzGerald, who barked out orders during the full-ground drills.
FitzGerald already knows what it’s like to coach at the Rebels, having been at the helm between 2005-06.
The veteran said he was enjoying his return to the role and revealed that he wanted to maintain the high standards already entrenched at the club.
“My responsibility is to continue the strong program that has been established by ‘Parto’ (Partington) and (former coach) David Loader,” FitzGerald said.
“I understand the fundamentals of the TAC Cup competition. I want to be a positive influence on the players, both as footballers and as people.”
FitzGerald also said he was focused on achieving on-field success, but not at the expense of player development.
“The two are not mutually exclusive,” he said.
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