CRICKET, not football, is where Ben Rantall’s sporting priorities lie.
So much so, Rantall had told himself he wouldn’t chase a pig skin around muddy ovals in the depths of winter this year. The decision came easily.
The paceman, who plays cricket with Dennington, was keen to spend the cold months getting fit in a bid to boost his representative selection hopes.
The abundance of under 18½ footballers at South Warrnambool — which could have limited his game time — also factored in his thoughts.
But then came encouragement from family friend Clinton Baulch, who urged him to join Old Collegians. The rest, as they say, is history.
Rantall, 17, spent three matches as the Warriors’ sub under coach Daryl Beechey but has since become a starting player and held his spot.
He has featured in the best players five times, including a best-afield effort against Timboon Demons in round seven and twice in the past fortnight.
Far from being the token teenager blooded for experience, Rantall has been a key contributor in a variety of roles in a side bound for finals.
But all that would not have eventuated had he gone with his gut instinct and put the boots away for a season.
“I played at South Warrnambool in under 14s and under 16s but I wasn’t going to play footy,” he said.
“Baulchy asked me to come up and have a run at Collegians. I went up there and signed a clearance on the first night of training.”
Rantall said he had not regretted the decision.
He admitted to nerves before his first full senior match, against Panmure in round five, but has settled in playing with teammates a decade his senior.
“The coaches are always giving me feedback,” he said, highlighting the role of Beechey and bench manager Anthony “Scooba” Wright in his development.
“Scooba on the sidelines, he’s been helping me with my kicking and helping me play in different spots — up forward, in the middle, changing my game a bit.
“(My form) has come as a good surprise. They just reassured me I’d be right. I took confidence out of that and tried my hardest.”
Old Collegians are fifth on the Warrnambool and District league ladder.
They take on East Warrnambool at Davidson Oval today before matches against Panmure and Merrivale to end the regular season.
Rantall said victory against Allansford last round proved what the Warriors were capable of when they played at their best.