NORTH Ballarat Rebels officials insist they have no bias towards different leagues when it comes to selecting junior squads.
Chris McLaren, a member of the Rebels’ Warrnambool zone coaching staff, said criticism of their selection policies was both unjust and incorrect.
A seven-member selection panel last week nominated 50 players — 25 at both under 16 and under 18 level — to trial for Rebels selection during the summer.
The nominations came under fire from The Standard journalist Andrew Thomson who, in an opinion piece, slammed restrictions on squad selections and the lack of independent assessments.
Thomson, a Warrnambool and District league executive member for eight years, was disappointed at the lack of WDFNL players among the nominations.
“The (Rebels) side is predominantly made up of Ballarat district players,” he wrote.
“There are very few spots left for kids from Warrnambool, Portland or Hamilton districts.”
Thomson claimed there were just three WDFNL players among the 50 Rebels players — two in the under 18s and one in the under 16s.
There are in fact eight out of the WDFNL — two in the under 18s and six in the under 16s.
“To insinuate we discriminate against the District league kids is incorrect,” McLaren said.
“Most people would acknowledge the majority of the talented kids play in the Hampden league, it’s a higher standard.”
McLaren conceded the selection panel had a difficult task in nominating 25 players for each age group, from a pool of about 65. He said the Rebels were considering running “testing days” during the pre-season to look at teens who missed a nomination but wanted to prove themselves.
“There are lots of good kids that have missed out.
“There are some very good Hampden league kids that have missed out,” he said.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to do some work with those kids that would show us their attitude is they want to be part of it.
“That’s something we’ve recommended to Ballarat. But it’s got to be achieveable logistically and with coaches.
“That was part of the reason I got involved. Ballarat think they should be able to get more kids involved and we’re looking at ways we can do it,” McLaren said.