NORTH Ballarat Rebels have overhauled their line-up for Sunday’s TAC Cup under-18 clash with Bendigo Pioneers.
The Rebels will be without 13 of its regular players as they represent St Patrick’s College in the Herald Sun Shield final on Saturday.
Multiple changes to the side is the nature of the TAC Cup competition, but this weekend will provide a big test to the Rebels’ system.
Coach Gerard FitzGerald said his message to the group is clear, control what is controllable and play to the system that has been educated to the entire squad and has got it within reach of the top four.
“It still goes back to my philosophy that my boys have understood with me all along. If we can control it, we’ll do something about it but if we can’t, just get on with it – it’s as matter of fact as that,” FitzGerald said.
“What we can control now is having faith and trust in the boys that have come in, knowing full well most weeks we have changes to the side anyway.
“We’re backing in what we’ve taught the boys.”
The Rebels system has held firm throughout the season, particularly after FitzGerald’s teachings began to sink in in the early part of the season.
The club has won its past three games and nine of its past eleven to be six points behind Sandringham Dragons and Murray Bushrangers who sit 10-3 alongside its draw in round five. FitzGerald was confident the club’s program would stand up regardless of who pulls on the Rebels jumper.
“If we’re good enough we can continue to win (and) we will know that one of the two sides in front of us will be two points away from us.
“We’ll still have a certain number of boys that will be forward of the ball, a certain number will play behind it and a certain number will play around it. Regardless of who’s come in, they will be challenged to be able to play their role.”
Bendigo Pioneers will be eager to claim the inform Rebels scalp, sitting one game outside the top eight after snapping a five game losing streak against the eighth-placed Oakleigh Chargers last week.
FitzGerald said after last week’s win over Calder Cannons that it would have to be ready for a red-hot Pioneers side when it travels to Queen Elizabeth Oval. Believing Bendigo will take a similar mindset into Sunday’s clash as the Rebels did against Murray Bushrangers in round 13.
Willem Drew heads the list of inclusions, Drew was one of five Rebels invited to attend the NAB AFL national draft combine this week.
North Ballarat will have another debutant on Sunday as Tom Scott comes into the side after some strong performances at Hamilton Kangaroos.
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