FOUR south-west-based North Ballarat Rebels graduates will line up for the club’s VFL affiliate this season.
South Warrnambool pair Charlie Lee and Shannon Beks, Koroit’s Nick Hausler and Portland’s Lochie Huppatz have earned a spot on the North Ballarat Roosters’s 2017 list after impressing over the pre-season.
For Hausler, the contract has been a reward for his efforts after a disappointing end to 2016.
“I was in and out of the Rebels team, so I lost a bit of form,” he said.
“I came back to Koroit and played reserves. That was a bit of an eye-opener.”
The 19-year-old was forced to watch on from the sidelines as he missed out on selection both with the Rebels and his home club – which went on to win the Hampden senior footy flag – late in the season.
But with renewed determination, Hausler made a big effort to lift his game and was rewarded with one of the 44 spots on the Roosters’ list.
“It’s really exciting. I didn’t have my best year last year, but I worked really hard in the pre-season to try to get a spot on the VFL list,” Hausler said. “I was really just trying to go as hard as I could and get as fit as I could and really just try to learn.”
Haulser made his VFL debut for the Roosters as a 23rd player in their 2016 season-opener but will be looking to add at least “a couple of games” to his tally as he divides his time between the Roosters and new feeder club Redan.
After taking a gap year last year, Hausler will move to Ballarat to study teaching, prompting his switch to the Ballarat Football League club.
But the forward/ruckman said he will continue to train with the Saints when back home.
Beks, who is also studying teaching in Ballarat, said he will continue to play for South Warrnambool when he isn’t lining up for the Roosters.
The key tall, who stands at 196cm, has stepped up to meet the demands of a gruelling pre-season at his new club.
“It’s pretty tough – it’s definitely harder than any I’ve done the last few years, but you know at the end of the day it’s going to make you a better footballer,” he said.
“The running is harder and (I’m) doing weights and stuff now. I want to play a few games, hopefully get a crack at it.”
The quartet are among a host of Rebels graduates who have followed the pathway from the TAC Cup into trying out for the VFL club.
Rebels talent manager Phil Partington said it was a great opportunity for the players to test themselves and learn.
“That’s the beauty of the VFL – there’s no development league any more, so the boys train with the Roosters … and if they’re not selected (one week), they go back to their home club,” he said.