Rats on hunt for reg­u­lar suc­cess

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Footy Countdown - BY DEAN LAW­SON

Wim­mera Foot­ball League club Ararat is on a mis­sion – and 2018 might be the year the Rats start mak­ing their move.

Rats pres­i­dent David Jen­nings said a de­sire driv­ing much of what was hap­pen­ing at Alexan­dra Oval was a need to ‘be suc­cess­ful more of­ten’.

“We want to get to a po­si­tion where we have a con­sis­tent for­mula where year-in, year-out Ararat se­nior teams play in the fi­nals,” he said.

“That means mak­ing the most of cy­cles and seiz­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties to be suc­cess­ful. Gen­er­ate suc­cess and ev­ery­one tends to jump on board.”

For many years Ararat, as a ma­jor cen­tre on the col­li­sion point for the West­ern District, Wim­mera and Pyre­nees, en­joyed a rep­u­ta­tion as Wim­mera league’s south-east­ern pow­er­house.

Re­gional foot­ball cir­cum­stances have nat­u­rally evolved over time and it is now two years in a row that Ararat has missed the fi­nals.

But there is al­ways a feel­ing that the Rats are the sleep­ing gi­ants of the com­pe­ti­tion and all they need is the cards to fall their way.

Mr Jen­nings was on the money when he sug­gested that when Ararat was go­ing well, the com­pe­ti­tion was also healthy.

Ararat, sim­i­lar to Hor­sham, has tra­di­tion­ally been a team that ev­ery­one else in the league loves to loathe and that’s

the way the club wants it to stay. “The im­me­di­ate plan for us is to get into fi­nals con­tention and then, if we get there, to push deeper,” Mr Jen­nings said.

Ararat has ex­pe­ri­enced Shane Fisher in charge of the white­board as coach this year, with as­sis­tants Trent Fis­calini, back from coach­ing Robin­vale last year, and Dan Mendes di­rect­ing traf­fic on the ground.

Com­pet­i­tive

Fisher echoed much of what Mr Jen­nings said while pro­vid­ing in­sight into how the Rats would take on the ap­proach­ing sea­son.

“We’re not go­ing to make mir­a­cles hap­pen overnight, but hope­fully we’ll chal­lenge for a spot in the fi­nals this year,” he said.

“We’re on the right track. As a club we cer­tainly be­lieve we will be a lot more com­pet­i­tive side than last year and hope­fully not have the costly lapses in games.

“We will play a dif­fer­ent style this year and in be­ing fit­ter will be try­ing to take more risks by run­ning and at­tack­ing.

“Some­times tak­ing risks will lead to things com­ing un­stuck, but in tak­ing risks you also get re­wards. We won’t be overly tall, but we’ll have enough to cover our bases.

“I think peo­ple have learnt a lot from what Rich­mond did in the AFL with a smaller group.

“This year we will have more flex­i­bil­ity through the mid­field and at half for­ward and bar­ring in­jury, in­stead of three or four play­ers ro­tat­ing, we might be able to have eight to 10.”

Ararat has been train­ing since be­fore Christ­mas to gen­er­ate higher lev­els of fit­ness and has had a solid re­cruit­ing cam­paign, net­ting the likes of Fis­calini, Corey Tay­lor and Ver­mont’s Jar­ryd Smith.

The club has also lured tal­ented Jake Wil­liamson and Tyler Cronin from Taty­oon, Cronin set to pro­vide a small-for­ward op­tion.

Mr Jen­nings said the Ararat club was all about fly­ing the flag for Ararat district.

“It is all about em­brac­ing the Ararat com­mu­nity,” he said.

“The play­ers are proud to be rep­re­sent­ing a broad area and they want peo­ple to come and watch them.

“There is no doubt the more peo­ple we get at games they bet­ter the play­ers will rep­re­sent their city.”

Ararat is in a strong fi­nan­cial po­si­tion, with Ararat RSL and WFI in­sur­ance lead­ing a spon­sor­ship group.

Ryan Bates

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