September 14, 2007
From Ballarat Courier
NORTH Ballarat will be without rising star and no-nonsense tagger Ed Lower for its biggest assignment of the Victorian Football League season - a preliminary final against Geelong at Port Melbourne tomorrow.
The Selkirk Roosters have lost Lower to the Kangaroos, with the 20-year-old to tackle Hawthorn in an AFL semi-final at the MCG tomorrow night.
Lower has been in superb form.
North Ballarat coach Gerard FitzGerald has had no hesitation giving Lower the biggest run-with roles in the opening two weeks of the finals.
Lower has not only shut down Bendigo Bombers and Sandringham, but also been one of the Roosters' most creative players.
Robbie Gregg and Kangaroos-listed Ben Hughes are at the front of the line to replace Lower.
But each has to prove his fitness after being sidelined with strained hamstrings.
Hughes was the most impressive of the two at Roosters training at AUSTAR Arena on Wednesday night.
FitzGerald described Hughes' form on the track as "fantastic".
However, Hughes has to be cleared by Kangaroos medical staff today before North Ballarat can consider his selection.
Gregg faces a similar scenario with the Roosters.
He had a lighter than expected session on Wednesday, but was put through his paces again last night - joining North Ballarat Rebels training.
Gregg will need to convince FitzGerald he is right at the Roosters' last training session tonight.
Kangaroos-listed David Trotter (hamstring) has already been ruled out from making a comeback tomorrow.
Hughes and Gregg were among eight players yesterday added to the team which defeated Sandringham by 17 points in a semi-final.
Aaron Clark, Brendan Peace, Tom Limb, Justin Hardy, Wayne Schultz and Derick Micallef have also been included in an expanded squad.
Geelong has added the impressive trio of Kane Tenace, Travis Varcoe and Nathan Djerrkura to the line-up which had the better of Coburg Tigers by 31 points in a qualifying final - a victory which earned the Cats a week off.
Geelong features 18-AFL listed players, including former Cats captain Steven King and promising youngster Tom Hawkins who with Trent West and Henry Playfair make up a combination with a wealth of height.
Geelong captain and VFL best and fairest James Byrne is set to be the only non-AFL player to start on the ground.