LIONS LOCK IN PREMIERSHIP TIGER!
By Kelly Masters
Jacob Ballard has put pen to paper, becoming the first recruit of the Coburg Football Club for 2020.
After success as Vice-Captain of the 2019 VFL premiership side Richmond, Ballard has made the move from Punt Road to Piranha Park.
Initially recruited from the Northern Blues in the 2014 Rookie Draft, Ballard went on to spend two years on Fremantle’s rookie list. In 2015 he reached the highest level, making his AFL debut for Fremantle in round-23 against Port Adelaide.
Ballard had two remarkably consistent seasons at Fremantle’s WAFL affiliate ‘Peel Thunder’, winning the Peel Thunder’s best and fairest for his efforts in 2015.
Moving back to Melbourne to join the VFL Tigers in 2016, it didn’t take Ballard long to make an impact in the VFL competition once again.
Dominating in the midfield for Richmond during 2017, Ballard received recognition in the VFL Team of the Year. He became part of the core leadership group at Richmond during 2018 and 2019, leading the Tigers on multiple occasions this year.
Ballard will become a Lion with a total of 78 VFL games and 44 goals already acquired on his resume.
Speaking about his decision to move to Coburg, Ballard said “I wanted the opportunity to be able to play a full game in my true position and where I play my best footy as a midfielder. After meeting with a few clubs, I walked away from my meeting with Coburg with the best feeling that this was the right place for me.”
He said, “The vision that Sturg laid out about how the club was going to improve and the way he spoke about the culture of the club and what they valued, really resonated with me.”
The fresh start at Coburg in 2020 is one Ballard is looking forward to for many reasons.
“I’m really excited about the young talent on the Coburg list and the stage that they are at now with a lot of young players having two full seasons worth of VFL experience under their belt. On a personal level I’m really excited to have a strong pre-season, get myself into great shape, and then play a full season through the midfield and see how good of a VFL player I can be,” He said.
Coburg Senior Coach Andrew Sturgess says Ballard will provide both traits that the club respect on and off the field.
“Jacob is a quality person first and foremost, so a lot of the values that we rate highly like being kind, caring for others, being humble might not necessarily be evident on the field, but we know the value that will add to our group.
“On-field Lions fans can expect to see a contested ball beast and someone who likes to play with physicality. He will tackle strongly, work for his teammates around the contest and hopefully hit the scoreboard.”
Sturgess is excited for Ballard to compliment the already talented and developing midfield.
“What we feel Jacob will do is elevate the playing standards of our young midfielders like Marcus Lentini, Luke Bunker, and Mitch Podhajski by demanding respect and attention from opposition teams which will allow those guys some more freedom.
“He will also be invaluable week to week not just with setting good training standards for our young players to follow, but by contributing to a positive culture and passing on ideas from his experiences so far in other environments.”
There is no doubt the tireless onballer is a readymade player that will contribute a wealth of experience to the Lions midfield depth in 2020.
Check out some of Jacob’s highlights from 2019 here