PRACTICE matches are a chance to try players in different roles.
Sometimes coaches unearth an extra option.
That was the case for Hampden league powerhouse Koroit against Ballarat league club Redan at Victoria Park on Saturday.
In wet, slippery conditions - "a taste of football" season according to Allansford mentor Ben Price, whose team also played a scratch match - Koroit tried emerging footballer Clem Nagorcka in defence.
"He's traditionally played as a wing, half-forward but we used him at half-back today because he's got really good pace and is quite elusive," McLaren said.
Nagorcka (work) and Todd White (university) both live in Geelong now and commuted back for the practice match.
McLaren said Nagorcka, who was in GWV Rebels' program in 2019, wanted to help the Saints add to their six consecutive premierships.
"He played the majority of the season in 2019 and was pretty unlucky not to play in the grand final to be honest," he said.
"He had a pretty good year, it was just Tom Couch became available, so it became a weight of numbers thing.
"I expect him to be a very good player for us. He's been doing a lot of training with Timmy McIntyre, who is a training machine, in Geelong.
"He's certainly lifted his fitness and he showed some things today that were very exciting."
McLaren said Koroit, which will play Horsham Demons at home next week in another practice match, fell to Redan. Jack O'Sullivan was concussed in the only injury scare for the Saints.
"We have a good relationship with Redan. We've played them for probably five or six years now," he said.
"It's a good hit-out every time. Redan would've won pretty comfortably. That's OK, they were probably a bit more experienced today.
"We probably had 10 or 12 first-choice senior players out for various reasons - a couple of minor injuries, weddings."
South Warrnambool had a "four or five-goal win" against Melbourne-based St Albans at Friendly Societies' Park.
"It was good to be back playing again. I'd say we'd have some sore boys after 12 months off," Roosters coach Mat Battistello said.
"We got what we wanted out of it. We had 20 players who were unavailable.
"The silver lining is there was four or five under 18 kids that got some senior exposure and guys who are coming out of the under 18s 24 months ago who got their first taste of senior footy."
Brayden Beks had a scan on a leg knock with the club "pretty hopeful that will come up all right".
Price's Allansford said Belmont was a tough challenge.
"Everyone is a bit tired and sore. Having the 12 months off (because of COVID-19), the bodies are taking a bit more to become seasoned," he said.
"We played at Deakin, it's a pretty big, round oval so the boys had plenty of running to do.
"It was our first proper hit-out. We played six quarters. Our under 18s played the first two against a mixed team of Belmont's under 19s and reserves and then our seniors came on and played against them."
Dylan Cross (hamstring), Bradley Edge, Ben Lenehan and Brett Membery (all work commitments) and Noah Keane (cricket) missed the Cats' clash.
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