The North Ballarat Rebels celebrated a rare win on the weekend, defeating the Bendigo Pioneers by a goal at Eureka Stadium thanks to some fantastic work by senior players including Louis Herbert. Whilst the Rebels led for a majority of the game, coach David Loader told the boys he was “most pleased with the last six or seven minutes”. The game saw the home side hold a comfortable lead in the first half that was drastically reduced to leave the Rebels winning by just six points in front of their home crowd. The win was much needed by the Rebels, who have been inconsistent over the course of the year with just one win before round ten against a depleted Oakleigh Chargers.
A man who knows a thing or two about consistency is over-age, slim-built utility Louis Herbert, whose versatility and strength in contests is monumental to the Rebels’ development as a team. Herbert admitted that “last year I struggled for consistency,” however this year has been a turnaround. Named in the best for the Vic Country side in the loss against South Australia, as well as regular spots in the Rebels’ best each week, the ever-humble Herbert ensures his feet are planted firmly on the ground. He admits that during the match ‘there were times when I struggled to get a kick’ despite his presence resolutely felt across the field. He provided much needed speed and strength against the likes of fellow Vic Country team-mate Isaiah Miller, among the Pioneers’ best on the day. Along with the rest of the team he enjoyed the second win on the board, noting “it’s a win, that’s all that matters.”
Unfortunately for Herbert he missed out on a position in the 2012 AFL National and Rookie drafts and in a bid to taste success this year he continues to work towards the future. His focus for this year is to “keep developing and improving as much as I can and hopefully keep playing well.” This sentiment would have been at the forefront of Herbert’s mind during preseason, where he worked considerably harder than the previous year. “I knew I’d be changing roles going [between] midfield and halfback” he said. Needless to say, the change in role epitomises Herbert’s malleability whilst also giving credence to the dynamics throughout the midfield. This provides glimpses of excitement in the Rebels’ games even when the scores may suggest otherwise.
The return of co-captain Matt Crouch was another highlight for the team, whom after seem weeks of injury proved he was still as dangerous as ever. Working cleverly alongside Daniel Bell and Herbert, Crouch contributed to the Rebels’ stunning second term which kept the Pioneers scoring just one point for the quarter. The experience of dual captains Crouch and Dallas Willsmore as well as players like Herbert is vital for the largely inexperienced squad. “Coming into the season, I knew I’d have [a role in] helping out the young ones,” Herbert said. It is this forward-thinking approach and maturity that sets him apart and displays why top-age players of his calibre are beneficial to any side. Needless to say he plays an integral role in paving the way for the future of the squad.
The Rebels face a tough challenge in the coming weeks, confronting top-of-the-table teams Geelong Falcons and Eastern Ranges. Much like Loader’s message drilled into the boys during the match against the Pioneers, Herbert himself will continue to “carry the momentum” throughout the season and hopefully secure himself a position on the big stage.