Buninyong looks destined for another season without gun forward Joel Ottavi due to Essendon’s request that he play in a higher standard than the Central Highlands Football League when not required by the club.
Ottavi joined Essendon’s VFL squad last season and played three games for the club, kicking four goals.
He had been aligned with Keilor in the Essendon District competition during 2017, but has since put pen to paper to call Buninyong – his former club – home next year.
But this move has been met with protest from Essendon, with the club’s VFL coach Dan Jordan not wanting his budding young forward potentially exposed to average opposition on poor quality grounds.
Jordan said the Ballarat Football League was the minimum standard Ottavi would be required to play in this region.
“He is going to play forward when he comes into the VFL side and maybe pinch hit in the ruck,” Jordan said.
“We want him playing in similar positions on the weekend against the best opposition he can so when he is called upon he is hopefully ready to go.
“He is going to be playing against AFL-listed players and guys of fair amount of experience.”
A former star forward and coach at East Point, Jordan has only recently taken over the Essendon VFL job for the 2018 season.
A clearly disappointed Buninyong coach Jarrod Morgan told The Courier it had been made “extremely clear” that Ottavi wouldn’t be playing at Essendon if he remained aligned to Buninyong.
“It has been made clear that if he is going to play at Central Highlands level then he wouldn’t be able to keep a contract at Essendon because of the standard of the competition,” Morgan said.
Ottavi lives in Ballarat with Buninyong defender Jack Robertson, who has been offered a position to trial for Collingwood’s VFL team.
Ottavi showed a heap of promise in his last season with Buninyong during 2016. He proved one of the most dangerous forwards in the competition, kicking 46 goals from 20 appearances.
Essendon has also extended an invitation to Hepburn youngster Jacob Brown to try out for the Bombers’ VFL squad.
Brown was named best on ground in the Burras’ grand final victory over Beaufort in September. He kicked four majors in the 18-point triumph.