WARRNAMBOOL footballer Thomas Ludeman credits a strong team dynamic for North Ballarat Rebels’ rise up the TAC Cup ladder.
The Rebels will enter their clash against Geelong Falcons at Warrnambool’s Reid Oval on Sunday with the momentum of a seven-game winning streak.
They’ve jumped to third on the premiership table after starting their 2014 campaign with four straight losses.
Ludeman, 18, said the David Loader-coached side had found the self-belief to drive it towards a finals campaign.
“We started off (playing as) individuals the first couple of weeks and it showed at the end of the games, but we’ve bonded together and are playing better as a team,” he said.
“We are having a crack the whole game and playing four quarter efforts.
“I reckon we can keep (our spot) in the top four.
“But we have a pretty big draw which will be a bit of a challenge.”
Ludeman played his best game for the Rebels in their hard-fought 18-point win against Western Jets at a rainswept Eureka Stadium on Saturday.
The right-footed inside midfielder relished the conditions and was rewarded with best-on-ground honours.
“I crack in, they say. I like getting the footy to the outside runners,” he said. Ludeman has played 10 straight games since making his TAC Cup debut in round two.
He’s adjusted to the pace of the competition — the under 18 breeding ground for AFL footballers — and now feels like a solid contributor.
The chance to play a TAC Cup match in front of friends and family at Reid Oval, a ground he knows well, is one he wants to grasp.
“It’ll be good to get out there,” Ludeman said.
“It’s a big oval with heaps of space to run and there’s not too much travel for me. It’s just up the road (from home) and all my mates will go up there to have a look.
“I don’t mind the wet but it would suit the team more if it was dry, especially on the Reid with the space.”
Ludeman missed selection in round one as Vic Country tall timber Patrick McCartin and Hugh Goddard proved the difference up front for Geelong Falcons at Camperdown’s Leura Oval.
McCartin and Goddard will be rested for the Rebels-Falcons’ rematch after playing in Vic Country’s final AFL under 18 national championship match tonight at Docklands.
Ludeman is an apprentice plumber and works in his father’s business alongside Warrnambool teammate Angus Chirnside, which gives him the flexibility to train with the Rebels every Thursday in Ballarat.
He is one of three Warrnambool players on the Rebels’ 2014 list.
Wingman-turned-defender Tom Schnerring has played 10 games and midfielder Luke McLeod four.
All three have played senior football for the ladder-leading Blues this season.
“It’s been good with ‘Snapper’ playing good footy in the back line,” Ludeman said of Schnerring.
“It’s a new position for him and he’s doing well and it’s good to see Luke McLeod get a few games as a bottom-ager — that’s a fantastic effort.”
Ludeman’s goal is to “play at the highest level I can achieve”.
He doesn’t have to look too far for inspiration.
Ludeman’s decision to support Brisbane stemmed from an encounter with retired Lion Jonathan Brown.
The three-time premiership star visited his home town Warrnambool after the 2001 AFL grand final and left a lasting impression.
“I was back in kinder when they won their first premiership and he came in and brought his premiership medallion and won a few of us over,” he said.
North Ballarat Rebels host Geelong Falcons at Reid Oval on Sunday at 1pm.