COBDEN teenager Zach Merrett will juggle school and TAC Cup football commitments in 2013.
The Melbourne Grammar student was named in Sandringham Dragons’ squad of 68.
Merrett, 17, will make his TAC Cup debut as a top-age player.
“I hope I can get a game. I am loving training down here,” he said.
“I have fitted in really well and the coaching staff have been really good with cricket and school.”
Merrett, who played in last year’s Hampden league senior grand final, said he was prepared for a busy year, combining sport with year 12 studies.
The talented all-rounder, who also plays for Melbourne Grammar’s first XI cricket team, trained three nights a week with Sandringham in November and December.
Since late January, Merrett has spent two evenings a week with the TAC Cup club and played cricket on Fridays.
When school cricket wraps up in a fortnight, he will train on Tuesdays and Thursdays with Melbourne Grammar’s top football side and spend one night a week with the Dragons.
Merrett played all 10 games for Melbourne Grammar in the Associated Private Schools football competition in 2012.
The 178-centimetre forward could be limited to eight TAC Cup appearances in the home-and-away season, with school football taking precedence.
Merrett said seeing his elder brother Jackson forge an AFL career with Essendon had encouraged him to tackle TAC Cup football.
“I got a letter for the (Geelong) Falcons for under 16s but, because I was in Melbourne, I didn’t get to training and decided not to worry about it for two years,” he said.
“Because I am now top age, I decided to have a go at it at Sandy.
“It was a big decision because my brother Jackson went through the Falcons.”
Sandringham talent manager Ryan O’Connor said Merrett was a “natural athlete”.
“He has fitted in really well and we are excited by the potential he is showing,” he said.
“At this stage we see Zach as a forward. His best attributes are reading of the play.
“He’s a natural mover, a kicker of the ball.
“It’s his first year in an elite program, so he is picking up his base fitness and conditioning.”
O’Connor said the Dragons had a large list to accommodate the high number of their players involved in the APS program.
Sandringham Dragons start their TAC Cup season on March 24 against Western Jets.