Shepparton News

Steve sticks with Tigers and has grand plans

- By Liam Nash

No man seems quite as suited to Rochester as Steven Stroobants.

The Tigers’ playing coach has thrived in his appointed role since last year and has signed on to lead the boys in black and yellow once more next season.

He molded Rochester into a highly competitiv­e unit during a truncated 2021 Goulburn Valley League season, guiding the side into fifth with a 5-5-1 record which would have had it play in a now-quashed finals series.

But next year, Stroobants wants a crack at something which has evaded him — a full season in charge.

“I’m just really looking forward to getting a proper year in,” he said with a laugh.

“It’s been a tough time in the first two years as head coach — unpreceden­ted times — but I’ve really enjoyed being able to lead the boys and implement a game plan which has been pretty good for us.

“We have a really good young group and a lot of experience­d senior players that can take the club forward — hopefully next year we can get a good preseason in and go from there.”

The Tigers refused to lie down in each of their contests this year.

A large part of that responsibi­lity fell to Stroobants; Rochester’s run-and-gun forward finishing equal second in the league’s goal-kicking standings, matching Chris Nield’s total of 28 and falling six shy of Kyabram jet Kyle Mueller’s tally.

The former Coburg and Bendigo Pioneers man has f lourished at the Tigers since answering the call put out by 2008 premiershi­p coach Daniel Schmidt and attributes it to the camaraderi­e ringing around the rooms at Rochester.

“After the VFL finished up Dan mentioned coming up here to play a bit of footy and that’s where it all started,” Stroobants said.

“Rochester is such a genuine footy club, they make you feel at home and the people we recruit usually stick around for a while, so credit to the community and footy club for how they make people welcome.”

Moving forward, Stroobants wants to extend that welcome to some new faces.

His side has a strong platform to build on and with the addition of a couple of first-team regulars, he’s barracking Rochester to challenge for the title next year.

“We were competitiv­e in pretty much every game we played this year — a couple blew out in the last quarter to six or so goals, but in modern footy that’s not that much,” Stroobants said.

“We’ll try and recruit a couple more top-end talents for next year; we feel we have the depth there, we just need one or two more A-grade talents to really hold us over.

“If we can get that, we think we’ll be in a really good position to vie for that premiershi­p.”

 ?? Steven Stroobants has signed on as Rochester coach ?? Going around again: for next year.
Steven Stroobants has signed on as Rochester coach Going around again: for next year.

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