Shock exit

November 21, 2017

Matt O'Keefe gives Mitch Bright some advice

Jarod Bacon heads for goal despite the efforts of Lucas Denton

ROCHESTER’S senior football playing stocks have taken another hit with vice-captain Mitch Bright joining a growing list of players heading away from the club.

But the Tigers are starting to make recruiting moves of their own, luring a heap of talent of their own from surrounding leagues.

Bright, heading to Colbinabbin, joined Jarod Bacon, LBU, as the key Tigers to move to other clubs, after veteran trio Elliot Bowen, Heath Aitken and Sam Brennan all retired at the end of the season.

Rochester coach James Flaherty was disappointed to lose the pair but understood the decision-making.

‘‘Jarod is obviously from Lockington and his old man is the president there at the moment, so it’s just one of those things,’’ he said.

‘‘We understand it, we were hoping he would stay but there wasn’t much we could do.

‘‘Mitch was a disappointing one, he was vice-captain this year with Nathan Marrone and it was a bit of a shock.

‘‘He’s got a few things going on, not all footy related, and he felt he needed a change. In the end, again there probably wasn’t a lot we could do.’’

But the ins are just as important, with Heathcote and District Football League rising star winner Jackson McEwen and Tallygaroopna best and fairest winner Doug Wren signing on.

McEwen played a crucial hand in Leitchville-Gunbower’s drought-breaking flag this season, and Flaherty said the duo were both looking to take the next step with their football.

Also coming on board are Lachlan West and Tom Hepburn from Stanhope, as well as Lachlan West from Sandhurst. Satsified with the recruiting efforts to date, Flaherty said the departure of experienced talent would also pave the way for the young players who broke into the team in 2017 to get more opportunities.

‘‘The recruiting has been pretty good, but we seem to pinch a couple and then lose a couple,’’ he said.

‘‘There’s always a bit of turnover year in, year out. We’ve probably lost three or four we didn’t want to go but it is what it is and it means a few of our younger boys can step up.

‘‘We played five or six last year from the thirds and it’s probably good now they’ve had that taste of the next step, because the opportunities.’’

And with the side getting back on the track next Wednesday, Flaherty said the emphasis on local talent would be sticking around.

‘‘Rochester as a club historically has relied heavily on those local kids coming back from uni in Melbourne or Bendigo on the weekends and playing for us,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve got to look to that again and to the current group because there’s more to come from those guys.’’

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